The Missing One

A/N: I wrote this little flash fic for the Vamp Halloween Fest. It's a little different, but I hope you enjoy. AU, vamp, Carlisle.

Thanks, as always, to my wonderful pre-readers and betas: Missyfits, Theladyingrey42, ArcadianMaggie, and TwilightMundi.

Disclaimer: All copyrights, trademarked items, or recognizable characters, plots, etc., mentioned herein belong to their respective owners. No copying or reproduction of this work is permitted without express authorization.


When Carlisle got home from the hospital, he toed off his shoes, draped his jacket over the top of his favorite chair, then went upstairs to wait.

He decided to relax. A warm bath would do nicely and he still had plenty of time before... before.

He gathered just enough candles to sufficiently light the bathroom, then drew the water into the tub. Shedding his clothing in a pile on the floor, he stepped into the water and sat down, the delicious wet heat slipping against his pale skin, warming his body, and slowly seeping all the way into his bones. He leaned back, and resting his head against the edge of the bath, closed his eyes and let his mind drift.

His mind returned again and again to churn over what was to come.

But warm bathwater did that, Carlisle mused. It lulled you into such a state that your mental faculties were weakened, and the barriers you'd built slipped unnoticed down the drain.

Perhaps a bath hadn't been a good idea. He sighed and opened his eyes. Lifting a hand from the water, he ran it through his hair and blinked in the candlelight. Perhaps candles hadn't been a good idea either. Their soft flickering light almost gave matters an air of legitimacy Carlisle wished they didn't possess.

After all, the first time, he'd been scared—to think, a vampire, scared!—but even if he'd gotten used to the visits now, they still unnerved him a little.

It happened every year at this time, late September, when the weather had a chill in the air and the leaves on the trees showed inclination of changing. Carlisle could hear the wind whistling outside. Not in a blatant howling sort of way... nothing so obvious as that, but simply unsettled air, dancing through the treetops, and creeping through the cracks of his windows and beneath his doors.

A phantom chill ran down his spine, and he dropped lower into the steamy bathwater.

Last year, September 24 had fallen on a Monday. This year, a Thursday. The first time, it had been a Wednesday. Carlisle supposed the day of the week didn't matter very much, but his mind recalled every single detail, whether he wanted it to or not.

He slipped his toes out of the water and wiggled them a bit with the perfect control he'd now known for centuries. Were vampires lucky to experience years and years beyond their rightful share? He hadn't been sure in the beginning. Over the centuries, however, he'd become more and more grateful for all the time that he had.

With that thought, Carlisle decided it was time to get dressed again for his...visitor. He cleared his throat, and stood up to let the excess water drip from his frame before grasping a nearby towel and stepping from the bath. Wrapping it around himself, he drained the water, gathered his discarded clothing, and headed the necessary few steps into his bedroom. He pulled on his pajama bottoms and a light shirt and wrapped himself in his robe before locating his slippers, supposing his ensemble to be decent enough under the circumstances. After toweling his hair dry, he hung it back in the bathroom, and finally sat down on the edge of his bed to wait.

He studied the floor at his feet. Listened to the wind. Watched as the lights of an automobile brightened the walls of his dark room before fading away again.

Vampires did a lot of waiting, he'd learned. He fell back to the bed and studied the ceiling, relaxing as much as he was able to there on his soft maroon bedspread, dressed in his navy robe and fuzzy slippers.

He felt like another year had gone by when he finally heard the soft voice from the foot of the bed.

Carlisle sat up abruptly to gaze at the pale form, as pale as his own, but possessing a translucency impossible for any vampire. For any living thing, really.

It was the same figure that visited him every year on this night, on the anniversary of Carlisle's mistake, though truth be told, he crept into Carlisle's thoughts far more often than that.

"Carlisle Cullen," the transparent boy—well, young man—said, his voice calm and sure. "My mother wishes me to remind you once again that promises are not to be broken."

"I know," Carlisle whispered. "I'm sorr—"

"And that a man is merely as good as his word," the boy continued.

"Yes," Carlisle replied frantically, getting to his feet. "I know. I'm so sorr—"

"And that," the boy paused as Carlisle went to him and attempted to grasp him, his arms moving smoothly through what should have been the boy's chest, forcing Carlisle to admit efforts to hold the boy were futile.

"And that," the boy said again when Carlisle stepped back, stricken, "if you had wanted to see me more often, you should have thought of that before."

The boy promptly faded into wisps of white, dissolving into the air like the steam from Carlisle's bath.

"Edward!" Carlisle gasped at the nothingness where the young man had stood. "Come back. Please! I'll do anything!"

Edward never did, though, not until the same day the following year, a shadow with a message of what could have been.

A door slammed below, startling Carlisle.

The soft feminine voice of his wife called to him from downstairs. She was home from her meeting then. He supposed Emmett and Rosalie would be back soon from their movie as well. And Alice and Jasper would probably return at some point, though they might have gone hunting, as Jasper was still struggling a bit with his diet.

The house would soon be filled with chatter and laughter and love as everyone gathered that evening. He'd only made his mistake once, after all. The other times, he had done what he had to do, and as a result, a cluster of vampires surrounded him, forming his dear family.

But still, he couldn't help but know that his family was incomplete. And so, until the following September, on a cool night as dark as this one, he'd spend quiet moments haunted by the missing one.