I do not own any part of Twilight.
This is the second in a kind of miniseries. The concept of First Sight is powerful with this group of characters, and I would like to explore it more fully. I invite everyone who reads this also to read "True First Sight," my first submission to fanfic.
I knew he was lonely. Carlisle barely remembered his human life, and he was reasonably sure he had never been serious with a woman before he was changed anyway. He would never admit it to me, but his thoughts were loud. He envied the families he saw at the hospital, even when they lost their loved ones. They had had an opportunity to love someone, to share life with them. He was starting to believe he would never have that. At least he and I were together—at least we understood what the other was going through.
"I'm going to work now." Carlisle stood from the table. We had been sitting quietly, but he knew I had heard everything he was thinking. We didn't discuss it though. It was an unwritten rule between us. "I'm working a double shift," he added.
"We should feed when you come home," I said. "It's been almost two weeks." It still astonished me how the smell of all that human blood at the hospital didn't bother him. I could never go there.
"Sure," he said. Then he was out the door.
I sat at the table a little while longer staring at the wall and listening to the radio, someone droning on about the end of the Great War. The damn thing was finally over. I was sick of hearing about it.
The newscaster didn't sound like he was going to shut up any time soon, so I stood and turned off the radio.
Now what to do with the rest of the day. Carlisle thought I needed more purpose—like him. Most days I was bored out of my skull. I had read every book in this town's excuse for a library. I even ran up to Columbus to the library at the university.
Sometimes I worked odd jobs to help pay for the apartment, but it bothered Carlisle when I did manual labor. I think it was more from his concern that someone would notice I was different, stronger and faster than everyone else, rather than his concern that I took work that was lowly. I couldn't get better work though. I looked too young to be taken seriously, and people would grow suspicious if they knew how much I did know. In the three years since Carlisle had changed me, I had learned more than the average lawyer or banker or doctor did in a lifetime—except Carlisle, of course. I felt his frustration sometimes when he had to defer to the specialists at the hospital. They were very often wrong, and he had to go behind them in secret and try to fix their mistakes, their misconceptions. Some days I didn't know why he stuck with it.
I passed the day mostly by staring at the walls, listening to the minds of the housewives nearby. Most of them were very simple women, good women but simple. If I numbed my mind with simple thoughts, it was sometimes easier to stay out of Carlisle's head when he came home.
It was late into the night when I heard footsteps on the stairs.
Then I smelled it—fresh human blood.
I held my breath, and my fists clenched. I was thirsty.
"Edward," Carlisle mentally yelled. "You have to control yourself. If you can't, get out."
If I held my breath, I thought I would be all right. Perhaps I should have left, but I was too curious about what in the hell he was doing.
The door opened, and I stepped back, to the far side of the room. Carlisle walked in carrying a human woman. At first, I was sure she was dead. Several bones sat at odd angles, and she was covered in scrapes and gashes. Then I listened more closely. There was a faint heartbeat, and fluttering thoughts, nothing coherent.
"What are you doing?" I said.
He walked past me and lay her down on the sofa in his room. He wished we had a bed for her. And there was something more in his thoughts, but it was muffled, as if he was pushing other thoughts to the forefront, as if he was hiding from me.
"Carlisle," I demanded. I stayed in the doorway, still a healthy distance from the woman.
"I couldn't let her die."
Holy fuck. "You're going to change her."
He looked at me with a determined expression. "I won't let her die." That something else was in his thoughts again, but then he turned away and focused on what he was about to do, on being able to stop.
"She's almost gone," I said. "Are you sure—"
I fell silent. I had never heard him speak like that.
He moved closer to the woman, on his knees next to the sofa, and barely murmured. I half heard the words aloud and half heard them in his mind. "You're going to hurt. I'm sorry." He smoothed her hair back away from her face. "Please forgive me."
With a gentle touch, as if touching the wings of a butterfly, he turned her head. You will stop, he told himself. You have to. He leaned slowly closer. Her blood smelled good to him, so much so that it made me thirstier. I took another step back and clenched the molding around the door.
His lips touched her skin. His reactions were wild—I couldn't catch it all. Then he sunk his teeth into her flesh. She tasted like humans would describe a five hundred year old cognac. His jaw clenched, and his teeth dug deeper.
Venom filled my mouth. My body tightened in self-control. I knew I should leave, but I felt like if I moved, it would only be in one direction. So, I stood there, watching him, feeling him struggle.
Then he stopped and stepped away in one flash of a movement.
We both stood motionless for a long time. The sun began to rise. The neighboring men woke, dressed, and kissed their wives goodbye for the day. Carts and a few cars began to fill the streets.
I heard the moment when the human woman's consciousness returned, when she comprehended the pain. She writhed and then screamed.
Carlisle held his hand to her mouth. "I'm sorry," he whispered. "It will end. I promise."
As the venom overtook her body, my urge to feed lessened. She was no longer human. She was almost one of us.
Carlisle looked at me over his shoulder. "Is she afraid?"
I stared at him. What in the hell was he doing? In the two hundred and fifty years since he had become a vampire, he had never changed anyone until me, until my mother begged him to save me. Why now had he chosen this woman?
Then I saw it—in the desperation on his face, the torture in his mind.
He loved her.
"Who is she?" I said.
This time he commanded an answer. "Is she afraid?"
I pulled my gaze from him and focused on her. "She doesn't understand," I said. "The pain is too much."
He turned back to her and smoothed her hair.
I plunged into his mind, further than I had ever allowed before. Practicing on the humans around me had made me better at digging through the layers of thought. Carlisle, of course, was infinitely more complex. There was so much. He was searching his mind for anything that might help lessen her pain. He knew she was no longer human now though. His training wouldn't help him now. He was fighting guilt for causing this pain, for having no way to numb it. He was worried about the neighbors, if any of them had seen or heard anything. We would have to leave, as soon as she could be moved. Esme—that was her name. He thought it was lovely, always had.
Always had. He had seen her before. I dug through his thoughts, through stupid shit—I had the feeling he was doing this on purpose, trying to bury something, to hide it from me.
I fought my way in. I could see he wasn't going anywhere. He was stuck here. There was only so much he could fight me.
I saw her in his mind. She was younger, maybe seventeen, about ten years ago. It was a rural area not far from here. He was living alone in a small house outside of Columbus, taking a break for a couple weeks from medical practice, trying to decide if he should go to Mexico and help with the bloodshed from the revolution.
The day was growing dark when he heard the buggy coming down the lane, then footsteps up to his door.
A knock. "Mr. Cullen, it's Jonathan Platt from down the way."
Carlisle opened the door. "Mr. Platt, how may I help you?"
"My daughter's been hurt, and Doc Harper's away. I heard you were trained in medicine."
Carlisle grabbed his medical kit, and Mr. Platt led him out to the buggy.
About fifteen minutes later they pulled to a stop outside the Platt farm. Carlisle followed Mr. Platt into the house. There was a young woman, probably late teens, lying on the sofa. Her skin glistened from sweat, and she lay awkwardly, as if she couldn't get comfortable, as if she was in pain. Carlisle walked in, and the woman who was fluttering around her, surely her mother, lost for a way to help her daughter, stepped out of the way. She moved closer to her husband.
"We don't know him," Mrs. Platt whispered to her husband.
Carlisle ignored her and knelt next to the girl. He touched her hand. "I'm Doctor Cullen. You're going to be fine."
She opened her eyes, and Carlisle's words were lost. He forgot what he was doing, why he was here.
Her eyes were golden brown, almost as gold as his. He had never seen that in a human before—and suddenly she wasn't just human. She wasn't different than him. For that half second, not long enough for anyone else to see, probably not even her, he felt like he knew her. People were sometimes said to have old souls. He knew she did, as if she had knowledge even he didn't have, that he may never have. What she knew would not be found in books, or even in a mind—it was in her heart.
"You're a doctor?" she said.
He made his mind work in straight lines again. He was disturbed at how easily he had lost track of his surroundings. That never happened to him, to his kind in general.
"Yes," he said with a smile. "I only look young."
"Your hands are cold."
He took his hand away from hers.
"No…" she murmured.
Carlisle looked down, away from her, and opened his bag. "What happened to your leg?"
"She was climbing a tree," her mother said. "I told her not to. It's not ladylike."
"We'll need to remove her shoe and stocking," Carlisle said to Mrs. Platt. "Perhaps you wouldn't mind?"
She came over, and Carlisle stood and moved away. He spoke with Mr. Platt—and tried to distract himself. Then her mother was done. He had to treat the girl, to touch her, without letting anyone see the thoughts that were racing through his mind. He had never wanted a woman like this before.
He knelt next to the sofa again and lightly touched the smooth skin of her leg. His body reacted. He didn't understand. He had touched many humans before, even beautiful women, and he had never felt a reaction like this. The blood he had consumed from a deer earlier today rushed. He felt as it converged, as filled his penis and hardened it. He couldn't stop it. He could feel there was nothing he could do. Carefully, he made sure his jacket concealed.
"Miss Platt," he said.
"Esme," she corrected.
He smiled a little, and her expression seemed to calm, as if the pain lessened a little when he smiled at her.
"Esme," he said, "I'm going to have to set the bone. It will be painful."
"What are you doing?" her mother said. Then she looked at her husband. "Are you sure—"
"Mother," Esme said, "it's all right. I trust him." She kept looking at Carlisle.
"I'll do my best to lessen the pain," Carlisle said.
He took a breath and focused on getting it right, on making it quick. He hadn't felt nervous in more than a hundred years.
He held her leg and as quickly and gently as he could shifted the bone to align correctly.
Her back arched, and she whimpered in pain. "Esme," her mother said.
"I'm sorry," Carlisle said. "It's over."
Panting, Esme opened her eyes. "I'm all right." She forced a smile. "That wasn't so bad."
"The rest is easier, I promise."
She smiled at him. He looked away, concentrated on what he was doing, but that meant he had to look at her bare skin, had to touch her. He applied a splint to her leg and wrapped it. His erection didn't fade. He started to think he was going to have to wait until the deer blood was completely used up by his body.
He finished and pulled the blanket from the arm of the sofa over her leg—to conceal her skin from view. It didn't help.
He closed his bag and stood, holding the bag in front of him. If her father saw how aroused he was, he would likely try to hurt him—and then he would have a much bigger problem than an erection. He wouldn't hurt Mr. Platt, of course, but Mr. Platt would surely hurt himself from trying to hit Carlisle, and then he would know Carlisle wasn't what he pretended to be.
"Keep the splint on for at least a month month," Carlisle said to the Platts, "and keep the dressing clean. Make sure Doctor Harper monitors the healing of the bone."
"What do I owe you?" Mr. Platt said.
Carlisle smiled. "Nothing is necessary. I'm just glad you thought to come to me." He started toward the door.
"Will you come back?" Esme said as she looked up at him with those golden eyes, "to check on me?"
He looked down at her, admired her one last time, at the way her hair was coming undone and falling down her shoulders. "I'm sorry. I'm leaving tomorrow." He walked out of the Platt house then up the road. As soon as he was sure he was out of sight, he broke into a run. He was leaving tonight. It didn't matter where, Mexico or another hospital in the US. He couldn't be around this girl, couldn't trust himself. A vampire wanting a human—he was insane.
I refocused on the present, on Carlisle desperately trying to save this woman.
"My God," I said.
Carlisle didn't move. I saw how much he had gone through to hide this from me. It was too personal, the one thing he hadn't shared, the one thing he had ever hidden from me.
"They say she tried to kill herself," Carlisle said.
With no more explanation, I understood what he wanted me to do. I tried to ignore his thoughts, his powerful fears, regrets, guilt, and concentrated on her mind.
Mostly, it was pain. I remembered this, the way it felt, as if barbed wire was being shoved through every vein at the same time, as if flesh was melting away.
"She's confused," I said.
Carlisle nodded, then waited for more.
I fought through her pain. It wasn't as difficult as fighting through Carlisle's mind. "Her husband," I said, "he beat her."
Rage emanated out of Carlisle, but he still didn't move.
I dug deeper into her mind. There was more pain, much worse than the venom. "She's… She was pregnant."
Carlisle turned, suddenly terrified. He had no idea what a transformation would do to an unborn child. He hadn't thought to check.
"The child died," I said. "That's why she jumped."
I moved closer, and Carlisle turned back to her.
"Does the hospital think she's dead?" I said.
"Yes." He paused. "Do you think she'll want to go back to him?"
She was lucid enough now to hear us. She was quiet, trying to hear us. "No," I said. "She doesn't love him."
I listened more to her mind. "She wants to hear you," I said.
"Does she…does she remember?"
"She's not sure. She just likes your voice."
I stepped back. They should be left alone.
"Edward," Carlisle said, "thank you."
I walked out. I sat in the kitchen and listened carefully, to both of them. Carlisle made me nervous. He was always the sure one, dependable, always right.
He didn't move from her side. He murmured to her over and over, comforting words, apologies.
As time passed, her mind became clearer. She started to remember. The baby. She still wanted to die if she couldn't have her baby—and then she would hear Carlisle's murmurs. He made her feel calmer, like maybe she could survive.
She remembered Carlisle. She had never forgotten him. He was who she thought of when she was with her husband, who she always wished she could have. She remembered the gentleness of his hands and turned it into more in her mind, pretended her husband's hands were Carlisle's. She had planned to name her son after him.
Two days later, I stood in the doorway. "It's almost done," I said.
From the same spot he had been for two days, Carlisle sat up and helped her through the last of it. With a gentle hand, he covered her mouth, helped keep her as quiet as possible. He knew he shouldn't have chosen an apartment, to live so close to humans. He would never do that again.
Her body arched, and her head rolled back into the pillow. Her body lifted up. She moaned in pain.
"I'm sorry," Carlisle whispered. "It's almost over. I'm so sorry."
Then her body slackened all at once.
Carlisle hovered over her. "Esme," he said, "everything is all right. You're safe."
She opened her eyes. They were bright red, no longer golden. She looked around wildly.
"It's me," he said. "Do you remember?"
She stared at him. Everything felt different, all senses sharper, louder, clearer. It was too much.
He touched her cheek. "Do you remember?"
She focused on him, only on him, and I saw as his face, his hands, his voice all came together in her now fully conscious mind. "Yes," she whispered.
He smiled, and I felt as she calmed. She could handle the confusion, the grief of losing her child, if he was here to help her. She trusted him.
I walked out of the room.
I knew Carlisle would never be lonely again, and I was thankful for that. But that also meant I was lonely by myself now.