Twilight Kink Fest Submission

Title: "Forgive Me Father"
Pairing: Carlisle/Edward
Word count: 15,500

Original Prompt: "Priest in training is placed at an all boys Catholic school. His reasoning for becoming a priest was to hope God would help him overcome his "urges". Enter an of-age senior boy and the UST explodes until they can't help themselves. I want first time fingering, sucking. Bonus points for the scandal that rocks the school and frantic fucking. Pairing your choice. Age disparity a must. Thank you."

Rating: NC-17
explicit m/m sex; religious and theological themes; teacher/student; age disparity (but not underage); and a generous helping of Catholic guilt. Please consider the prompt and kink before reading.

Disclaimer: The characters aren't mine. The words are.


Carlisle smoothes his hand across the surface of his desk. The wood is gnarled and worn but cool under his palm. It's been ages, it seems, since he's been on this side of a classroom. He's not entirely sure how he feels about it.

A soft knock at the door disrupts his thoughts. He looks up as Monsignor Rossi steps into the room. The man is dressed in the traditional black, but he's forgone his cassock in deference to the heat. His sleeves are rolled to the elbow.

It's unseasonably warm, even for August.

"Carlisle," he says, voice exceedingly cheerful, "I wanted to see how you're settling in." The man's smile is open and bright.

"I'm all right," he replies, straightening a stack of papers on the corner of his desk for perhaps the third time. "I've got my lesson plans in order."

"Good, good," the man nods, "and your schedule, I take it, is to your liking?"

"Yes. I've Church and Sacraments and Biblical Theology for the underclassmen. I don't foresee any difficulties with either." He looks down at his agenda. "It's the electives, of course, that will pose a bit of a challenge."

Rossi laughs, a rich sound, and perches on the edge of a student desk; it groans under his weight. "Yes, well, they always do. But with those courses comes a degree of flexibility I'm certain you will delight in."

Carlisle nods. "Yes, I hope so."

"Wonderful. And know that my door is always open, should you need anything at all." The man stands again, smoothing his palms down his thighs. "The rest of our staff, too, will be happy to assist you as you settle in."

"Thank you. I very much look forward to meeting everyone."

"Yes, yes," Rossi says, clasping Carlisle's hand in his, "we're so very pleased to have you aboard. I'm sure you'll fit in swimmingly."


The campus chapel is small and disconcertingly austere, but the smell of incense hangs heavy in the air, clinging to his hair, his skin in a way that is soothingly familiar. Carlisle crosses himself and lights a candle, murmuring a prayer to Saint Ignatius. He thinks, perhaps, teaching is a type of battle. Rossi would not be amused, but Carlisle rather likes the analogy.

The nave is empty, and he takes a seat three rows back from the altar. The wooden pews are as uncomfortable as he remembers. He smiles, fingers smoothing over the worn cover of his missal. The chapel's aesthetics do little to inspire fondness or enthusiasm among students who are rather reluctant churchgoers to begin with.

But the late afternoon sun glints through the stained glass window, bathing the floor in a jewel-hued glow. Emerald greens, cerulean blues, and honeyed ambers dance along the center aisle. It's quite lovely.

Carlisle looks up at Jesus nailed to the cross, His body emaciated and broken.

I adore Thee, Oh Christ, and bless Thee. For by Thy holy cross Thou hast redeemed the world.

He bows his head, reciting the words to prayers he's said thousands of times before. But it doesn't feel right; the words feel strangely empty now. Something twists in his chest – an ache behind his heart, just beneath his ribs.


Classes start. Carlisle falls into a relatively comfortable routine.

The freshmen are intolerable. They are impossibly young and helplessly immature; none are remotely interested in theological studies. It's understandable, Carlisle supposes. After all, they've yet to realize that core subjects like English and sciences will one day be necessary, even useful. Required religious courses seem of little importance.

His sophomore classes offer only a marginal improvement. Some of the brighter students at least seem to realize that, by obtaining good marks in Carlisle's Church and Sacraments, they will be exempt from requisite class work required for their confirmations. Carlisle is not above reminding them that failure in his course will result in a grueling session of Saturday classes if they intend to receive the sacrament along with the rest of their peers. Such a threat, it seems, is a great motivator.

The upperclassmen are better. He teaches a World Religions class that several students seem genuinely enthusiastic about and a Morality and Ethics course, which, at the very least, has generated some interesting discussions. Many seniors, it seems, enrolled in the class under the misconception that they'd do little more than sit around and talk about sex – a fact that never ceases to amuse Carlisle.

He still remembers the expressions on their faces the day he passed out copies of The Republic.

They are still slouching their way through Platowhen a student raises his hand. His tie is always askew (it is sixth period after all), and his hopeless hair looks like it's never seen a brush. But he's already proven himself to be quite intelligent, and he never fails to participate in discussions.

"Yes, Mr. Masen?"

"I was just wondering, sir, if we'd be moving on to Augustine next, or if we'll spend any time on Aristotle?"

Carlisle smiles. "I think we'll do Saint Augustine, then Moore perhaps, before ending with Aquinas' Summa."

The boy nods. His eyes are very green.

"Are you interested in theology, Mr. Masen?" he asks, genuinely curious.

"Apparently so," the student answers. His lips curve slightly, and there is something in his expression that Carlisle can't quite place.


Carlisle crosses his legs, resting an ankle on his knee, and leans back in the straight back chair. Father McNulty sits opposite of him, fingers steepled, a benignly speculative expression on his weatherworn face. The man has been his mentor and advisor since he began seminary.

"How have you been Carlisle?" he asks after several moments. "Teaching is treating you well?"

"Yes," he answers honestly, "I am enjoying it."

"Wonderful," the man says, folding thick hands behind his head. The pose is deliberately casual. Carlisle holds his breath; he knows what's coming.

"And your dissertation is coming along?"

He nods.

"Good." McNulty looks down at his desk calendar. "So you're on schedule to complete your thesis this spring. You'll defend just as your tertianship comes to a close, which leaves us with…" he turns a page in the agenda, "a July ordination?"

Carlisle looks down. He suddenly feels a little ill. "Yes," he manages, but his voice wavers slightly.

McNulty looks at him for a long moment. "What's the matter, Carlisle?" His tone is gentle. "You've come so far. This should be a time for celebration."

"I know, Father."

"And yet," McNulty says, fingers stroking along his jaw, "I sense only apprehension and doubt."

Carlisle says nothing. His throat is suddenly very dry.

"Perhaps, if you told me what's troubling you," the man says finally.

"No." His voice is perhaps a bit rougher than he intends, but he can't help it. He doesn't want to have this conversation. Not now.

"I can't say I agree," the man says reaching for his coffee mug; the blue porcelain is cracked and faded. "We all need support sometimes."

"Yes." Carlisle picks at his thumbnail, a nervous habit left over from university. "And there are also times we need to work through things on our own."

McNulty nods, but his pale eyes are sad.

Carlisle sighs. He's just so tired. Tired of feeling empty. Tired of questioning. Tired of wondering if the desires that keep him awake at night will ultimately consume what little faith he has left.

"Perhaps once you've taken your orders, things will improve," the man tries, blowing steam off the top of his mug. "Sacrament has its way of removing doubt."

Carlisle trails a finger along the edge of the desk. Maybe it would be easier if he confided in McNulty. The man has always only had his best interests at heart. Still, his preferences – the unnatural things he can't seem to help but want – they are his burden, his cross to bear. It has always been something he's had to endure privately. He thinks, perhaps, it will always be that way. His sexuality, after all, is simply God's test of his strength.

Carlisle knows this, yet he worries at times that it might be too much.

"Have you been to confession?"


McNulty regards him steadily. "It will get better, Carlisle, whatever it is. God does not give us more than we can bear."

He nods, wanting desperately to believe him, but he is not so sure anymore.


"Father Cullen?"

Carlisle looks up from his notes. Edward Masen stands in the doorway. His cheeks are pink with heat, and his white school shirt is un-tucked. One rumpled shirttail hangs out over pressed khaki pants.

"I am not yet a priest," he reminds the young man softly. Such details are utterly lost on the student population.

"Oh, I'm sorry, professor," he says with a bit too much emphasis on the word.

Carlisle nods and does not roll his eyes. Instead he motions toward Edward's disheveled appearance. "Uniform, Mr. Masen."

"Oh, yeah, sorry," he apologizes again and proceeds to yank the rest of his shirt out of his pants, exposing a thin slice of pale stomach. He's not wearing a belt. His trousers hang far too low on narrow hips.

Carlisle's breath catches, and he looks away. But he can't help but glance back at the boy's waist as he redresses. His eyes follow pale hands as they slide inside his pants and back out again, smoothing down the fabric.

He swallows thickly. The room shouldn't be this warm.

When Carlisle looks up again, the boy is watching him, a smile playing at pink lips.

He feels his skin heat, and Edward raises an eyebrow. "Acceptable?"

"Yes, yes, of course," he manages, more flustered than he has any right to be. "Now, I assume you came to see me for a reason?"


"How do you believe everything you do?"

Carlisle looks up from his missal; he's seated on the steps of the chapel reading. The boy hovers above him, a half eaten apple in his hand.

"Nothing makes sense if I don't," Carlisle answers honestly.

Edward sits down beside him. "I'm not sure what I believe," he says after a few moments. "I mean, I'd like to think that all this—" he makes a sweeping gesture with his hand, "has meaning, but I just don't know." He takes a bite of apple. Carlisle watches his mouth, his throat as he swallows.

"It is reasonable to have doubts."

The boy frowns, forehead creasing. "Do you?"


Edward tilts his head; bronze hair tumbles into his eyes. Carlisle has to resist the urge to brush it out of his face. Instead he picks up his missal again. The worn cover is smooth and familiar against his hands. "Having doubts does not mean not believing."

Edward nods. "That makes sense. And I do believe in faith." He pauses and turns the apple around in his hand. "And I believe in the existence of God, and in good and evil. And I believe in the necessity of natural laws to govern right and wrong." When he looks up at Carlisle his eyes are green and bright. "But I'm not entirely sure I believe in absolute definitions of what constitutes right and wrong."

They sit together quietly after that. The lunch period is nearly over. Carlisle should go back inside, make sure his lecture notes are in order for his next class. The boy finishes his apple then twists the stem off the core. Carlisle watches his hands. His fingers are slender and pale.

He wonders at Edward's ability to elucidate so clearly, so simply the central issue of his own crisis of faith. And he wonders if, perhaps, the young man knows more than he's letting on.


On the second and third Wednesday of every month, the students attend mass.

This week, Carlisle assists Father Munro during the service. He notices the boy as he's placing the Book of the Gospels on the altar at the start of the celebration. Edward is not seated with the rest of his class, but in the front row among the ninth graders. It is a matter of seniority that the upperclassmen fill the pews in the back of the chapel, leaving the more conspicuous seating to the younger students.

Edward Masen's eyes follow him as he takes his seat next to Munro. He feels strangely on display and this flusters him. Carlisle smoothes his hands over his dalmatic; the tunic's thick fabric is rough under his palms. When he looks up again, the boy is still watching him.

He barely remembers proclaiming the Gospel, but as he kisses the Book and carries it to the side table, he allows himself to wonder at what Edward's attentions might mean.

He knows that student crushes are not altogether uncommon, but surely he's not supposed to feel this white-hot tension in their air whenever Edward Masen is around, and surely his skin shouldn't heat whenever he looks at the young man.

The congregation stands, and he realizes it is time to announce the Intentions, but Carlisle is still distracted as he makes his way to the lectern. The students listen dutifully as he recites the Prayers of the Faithful, but he hardly knows what they are asking God for. His mind is preoccupied with the smooth curve of Edward's jaw and the pale sweep of his neck as he looks up at the Sanctuary; Carlisle can't stop thinking that he suddenly wants nothing more than to touch the boy.

"Let us pray to the Lord."

"Lord hear our prayers."

After the student ministers present the Gifts, and he prepares the altar for the Eucharist, Carlisle hands the paten to Father Munro for his consecration before pouring wine and a little water into the chalice, saying softly "through the mystery of this water and wine." He passes the censor over the altar, focusing on the heavy scent of incense in the air, not the weight of the boy's eyes on his skin.

As Carlisle assists with communion, the boy watches him. He rises with the rest of his row and dutifully files into the aisle. Then Edward is standing before Carlisle, and he is holding the Host in the air. "The Body of Christ."

"Amen," he whispers, parting his lips just so. When Carlisle places the Host in his mouth, he's certain he feels the boy's tongue dart out to touch the tip of his finger. But Edward is already stepping back, ducking his head, and turning to return to his seat.

Carlisle can still feel the warmth of his breath on his skin.


His mere presence seems to tap into something primal in Carlisle's being. It is something he has worked hard to ignore, to bury deep within the darkest part of him where he managed to convince himself years ago that it belonged.

But here in class with the boy seated in the front row, his elbow propped on the desk, his head tilted to the side, Carlisle can't help but feel it. It starts in the base of his spine and claws its way up without his brain's permission.

And, perhaps, it's just the morning's chill or one too many glasses of wine the night before, but he cannot help the feeling that blooms in the pit of his stomach, curls around his hips, runs down his spine whenever he looks at Edward Masen.

That night, he knows he should go to the library, should reexamine Augustine's distinction between sin and natural human inclination. Instead, he sits on the couch, downs a half of bottle of red zin, and remembers the slow arch of the boy's spine, the way he furrows his brow when he's thinking, and the soft curve of that smooth cheek resting on the palm of his hand.

When McNulty emails, asking how Carlisle's research is going, Carlisle ignores him and settles back with a new copy of The Marriage Plot. Edward mentioned loving Eugenides, and he hasn't read a good work of fiction in ages.


Carlisle is reading the same article on Aquinas' Summa for the third time when the boy appears. He is still in his uniform, though his tie is gone.

Edward's eyes brighten when he sees him, and Carlisle tries to ignore how much this pleases him.

"Professor Cullen," he says, sliding his book-bag off his shoulder and taking the seat across from him. The tiny café is popular among students, but Edward is alone. He has a frothy coffee confection and an oversized oatmeal cookie. He cradles the coffee mug between his palms but does not drink. Instead he looks at Carlisle. "What are you doing?"

Carlisle glances down at his notes to avoid noticing the color of the boy's cheeks. "Research."

"On what?" Edward bites his lip; it is disconcertingly, endearingly attractive.

"Today, Aquinas' interpretation of natural law." Though Carlisle tells himself it is necessary information for his dissertation, he knows it's rather personal.

Edward nods. "You're nearly done with your doctorate." It is not a question.

Carlisle nods and finds he is not surprised that the young man knows how close he is to completing his thesis.

"And do you still like teaching?"

"Yes, for the most part."

"You can't possibly like the students, though," Edward's mouth curves slightly. "Except, perhaps, for some of them."

Carlisle is on his third cup of tea before he realizes the boy is flirting with him.


He ignores the flutter and twist in his stomach whenever he sees the boy now. He tries to tell himself it's simply a natural response to having such a promising student, excitement over a child who clearly has such high potential.

But deep down he knows that's not the case. He recognizes the illicit appeal, the attraction he will never openly acknowledge, and he hates himself for such weakness. He hates that the boy's mere presence in his classroom each day continues to gnaw away at what little conviction he has left. Forces him to question the God that would give him such a weakness. And he despises himself for not having the strength to overcome it.

And yet, the way Edward looks at him thrills him to no end.


When Edward runs into him at the café for the third time, Carlisle begins to think it's not just coincidence.

The boy is ridiculously underdressed for the crisp November weather. Carlisle does not like that he finds it so goddamned appealing. Edward's green t-shirt is worn and faded. A hole at the neckline shows a flash of pale skin, and his jeans hang too low on narrow hips.

He runs a hand through already untidy hair and grins. His teeth are perfectly white and perfectly straight.

He pulls up a chair and sits down far too close to Carlisle. Though they are not touching, he can feel the heat from the boy's body warm against his skin. It makes his breath catch and his heart pound frantically beneath his ribs.

"When I was fourteen, my father caught me kissing Jasper Whitlock in my bedroom after school one day," Edward starts suddenly, "he had his hand half-way down my pants when my dad opened the door."

Carlisle says nothing. He takes a sip of his tea to hide his surprise, to take his mind off that far too pleasing image. He waits for him to continue, but he does not.

"Why are you telling me this, Edward?" he prompts after a moment.

The boy chews on his lip; Carlisle's eyes are not drawn to the sight.

"It's the reason I came to Chicago," he says in way of response.

"Oh?" Carlisle answers, trying to keep his voice level. He hadn't known that.

"Yes. My father shipped me off the moment term was done. Sent me here to live with mom."

Carlisle raises an eyebrow, "and attend an all-boys preparatory academy?"

The boy laughs. "I think the Catholics and the priests provided the basis of its appeal."

He nods. "Naturally."

Edward's smile is brilliant.

"I still don't understand why you're telling me this."

"Isn't it obvious?"

"No," Carlisle doesn't think it is.

"Because I need you to know." He ducks his head; a strand of reddish hair falls into his eyes.


Edward looks up again, and something about his expression sends a chill down Carlisle's spine.

"Because I want you to know what I want."

"It's all right, Edward," he says slowly, carefully. "You're young. It's natural to be confused about such things."

"No. You don't understand," he says, reaching out to brush his thumb along the back of Carlisle's hand. "I'm not young. And I know exactly what I want."

That night, as Carlisle reaches for himself he remembers the press of the boy's hot skin against his own. And, as he strokes himself off – it doesn't take long – he hates himself for wondering what that pale skin would look like if the boy were naked and stretched out beneath him in his bed.

When he comes, desperate and shuddering into his pillow, he imagines he can taste the boy, branded hot against his tongue.

Preparation for celibacy be damned. Even McNulty admits that such a minor indulgence is sometimes necessary to keep one's heart and thoughts turned to God.

But as Carlisle drifts off to sleep, his mind is nowhere near God.

Instead, his head is filled with images of too pink lips, slim hips, and a shock of bronze hair so unruly he wants nothing more than to thread his fingers through it.


"When did you decide to become a priest?"

Carlisle looks up, "I'm not sure." He smoothes his hand over the papers on his desk. "It's something I've always wanted."

The boy says nothing, but looks at him expectantly, waits for him to continue.

"My mother claims I could recite the Lord's Prayer perfectly before I could even walk."

Edward smiles, "I bet you were adorable."


"I'm certain of it." The boy leans forward in his chair, resting his elbows on his knees. "And you've never doubted it was what you wanted to do?"

"No, not really." Carlisle picks up his pen again, but cannot focus on the essay in front of him.

Edward raises an eyebrow.

"Sometimes, though, I worry God asks too much of me." He surprises himself by saying it, but it hardly matters. Carlisle feels comfortable talking to the young man, and it feels good to admit these things, to say out loud what he's only ever admitted to himself.

"Because you're gay."

His forwardness startles Carlisle. He glances to the door nervously, but it is still closed. "Because," he says slowly, "sometimes I have thoughts that I shouldn't." He puts his pen down again.

Edward nods. "But these thoughts," he says, rocking his chair back onto two legs, "you don't act on them?" There is a teasing lilt to his voice that makes Carlisle's stomach tighten and flip.

He's certain this conversation borders on impropriety.

He's also certain he doesn't care.


"Forgive me, Father, for I have sinned."

Carlisle looks up from his stack of essays and frowns. Edward has been coming to his room after school with increasing frequency. Ostensibly, he's there to study, though Carlisle is not sure how much work he actually accomplishes. Now he sits, leaning back in his chair with his arms crossed behind his head. He hasn't even opened his textbook.

"I am not a priest," Carlisle says rather sharply, "and I am therefore unable to hear confession." He looks at Edward, but his expression is unreadable.

"I know, but surely you can practice."

Carlisle shifts in his chair; he feels rather uncomfortable. "I cannot offer absolution."

"That's all right," the boy says, "I'm not even sure I want to be absolved." He cocks his head to one side, "besides, I think this will be good for both of us."

Carlisle frowns again but sets his pen down, giving Edward his full attention.

"So, where were we? Ah, yes. It's been…oh, I don't know…a year or so, maybe two years since my last confession?" He smiles, clearly fond of this game.

Carlisle can't help but chuckle at that. He knows the young man never takes confession with Father Munro or Monsignor Rossi at weekly mass. "What's bothering you, Edward?" he prompts softly, curious as to what the boy could possibly want to talk about.

Edward looks at Carlisle steadily, and for a moment he's not sure he'll respond. But then he licks his lips and says, "I've been having unchaste thoughts." Something flashes in his eyes as he speaks, but he does not lower his gaze, "about one of my professors."

Carlisle has to look down, away from the weight of the boy's stare. His chest suddenly feels very tight, "I'm sorry?"

"I know," Edward smiles a bit wistfully, "it's all very untoward. But I simply can't stop thinking about him."

Carlisle takes a deep breath. "Tell me." He is surprised his voice doesn't shake.

The boy swallows, nods. "I want to know what it would feel like to touch him, for him to touch me."

"It is natural to have inappropriate thoughts at times, Edward," Carlisle says after a moment. He speaks very slowly. "It is part of who we are as human beings." He pauses, reaching for his coffee mug. He takes a small sip. The coffee is muddy and tepid now, but he doesn't care. His mouth is suddenly very dry. "And, as long as we are able to control these…urges, as long as we do not choose to act on them, then God understands. It is all right."

"No, you don't understand," the boy says suddenly, "I want to act on them."

"Edward, you don't—"

"Don't tell me that I don't know what I want." He stares at Carlisle, his gaze holding his firmly. "I've known for weeks. When I'm with you, for the first time in my life, everything feels right. You have to see that."

Carlisle is silent for a long moment. For too long he's ignored the pleasant, disquieting tendrils of warmth that curl in his stomach and spread through his limbs whenever he thinks about, is around Edward. "You're young. You'll find someone who's better suited for you—"

"I dream about you," Edward cuts him off. He is still staring, green eyes intense. "Nearly every night. And I think about you when I jerk off. It never takes long. Seconds really. All I need to think about is what it would be like if I, if we..." The boy blushes and looks away.

Carlisle's breath catches. He's hard in his trousers, and he shifts, crossing one leg over the other. "I'm sorry, Mr. Masen," he says, and the boy's eyes narrow slightly at the use of his last name. Carlisle looks down at his desk. "I cannot have this conversation. I am not your confessor, and it is improper for us to be discussing such things. You should schedule an appointment with Father Munro."

"No. I don't want to speak with Father Munro."

"He is trained in counseling," Carlisle tries. "He will be able to provide some guidance."

"I get hard just watching you," the boy says, "in class, you know. I can't help it."

Carlisle swallows thickly. He can't speak; he can't look at Edward.

"Sometimes I have to get myself off, afterward. In the bathroom before seventh period." His voice is very low; Carlisle can hardly hear him over the pounding of his heart. "Or else, I worry I might come in my pants."

"Oh, God," the words are out before Carlisle even realizes he's said them. "Edward, I…" his voice is strained.

"I'm sorry." The boy stands suddenly; Carlisle can't help but notice the bulge protruding the front of his trousers. "I just thought you should know," Edward finishes before slipping quickly from of the room.

Carlisle doesn't think. If he did, he would march straight to Monsignor Rossi's office and ask that the boy be removed from his class. He could cite any of a number of improprieties or infractions that could warrant such a decision.

But he doesn't think. Instead he locks his classroom door and walks as calmly as he can down the hall to the boy's restroom.

His heart jerks frantically beneath his ribs as he pushes the door open. He doesn't dare to breathe.

The room is empty save for the last stall. He can see the thin slip of the boy's shadow against the floor, and he hears the quiet gasp, the sudden intake of breath as the door shuts behind him. His shoes click against the tiled floor as he moves to lean against the washbasin.

Neither of them speak.

But there's a rustle of fabric; he can picture the boy yanking his shirt from his trousers. And then there is a clank of brass as Edward undoes his belt, the telltale sound of his zip as he hurriedly undoes his flies.

Carlisle leans against the sink; the cracked porcelain is cold against the palms of his hands. His knees are suddenly very weak.

"Christ," Carlisle thinks he hears a murmured gasp, a whisper of sound that makes the blood pound in his ears. He has to close his eyes against the thought. But he can hear movement, the frantic sound of skin on skin, and he knows (he knows) the boy's hand is on his cock.

Carlisle bites his lip to keep from crying out as he listens to the delicious sounds Edward makes behind the door of bathroom stall. He can't remember ever being this hard.

Edward's breath is ragged now; Carlisle imagines how it would feel, warm and wet against his throat. "Oh God..." This time, he realizes with sickening certainty he's the one who's cried out. He can't help but press one hand between his thighs.

The boy is close. He knows this by the sound of a swallowed back moan, by the way his hand moves faster, erratic now. Then he stills, and Carlisle swears he hears his name on the boy's lips as he spends himself into the commode.

Carlisle flees. He has to get the hell out of that restroom before he comes in his trousers, before he pushes that stall door open and takes the boy into his arms, does any of a dozen things that will surely damn him.


He calls in sick the next morning.

In a semester of teaching, he hasn't missed a single class. But he can't bear to stand at the front of his room, to look into the faces of all his students knowing what he's done.

It's reprehensible to be sure. And he knows he should go to Monsignor Rossi immediately and offer his resignation.

But he also knows he won't.

He enjoys teaching. And such an admission would ensure he never stepped foot in another classroom again. Regardless of his ultimate decision about the priesthood, he doesn't want to destroy his chance of ever holding another teaching position.

So he justifies his decision. Makes excuses for his actions. After all, he hasn't actually laid a hand on the boy - if one ignores the careless, casual touches. A fingertip trailed along his wrist. A hand between his shoulder blades or brushed against the small of his back.

Carlisle laughs. It's absurd. He knows, of course, that those touches are anything but casual, and he knows now he must acknowledge that they're not exactly innocent either.

He spends the day in bed. He feels rather a bit ill after all.


Two days later, the boy finds him in the cafe. He sits down beside him without a word; he doesn't even have a drink.

"I know you want me," he says with no preamble.

Carlisle glances around nervously, but there is no one in the cafe except the gum-snapping girl behind the counter. She's absorbed in some magazine and paying them no attention. "What I want and what I may have are entirely different things," he says under his breath.

"You can have me."

"No. I can't."


He looks at the boy. His expression must reveal his incredulity because Edward blushes and ducks his head. The pink stain on his cheeks is lovely, but it's also a disturbing reminder of just how young he is.

"Is it because you're my teacher, or because you're going to be a priest?"

"Both." Carlisle slides his thumb along the lip of his coffee mug. "Well, perhaps, mostly the latter."

Edward nods. "I'm eighteen. And I won't be your student forever."

Carlisle takes a slow sip of tea; it's bitter and strong against his tongue. "I know. But I am preparing for celibacy."

The boy's eyes widen slightly at that, and he leans forward in his chair. "How can you do that?"

"I believe it is right."

"But to give up so much...permanently."

"I don't consider it giving something up," he says after a moment. "Rather, it's more of a trade. A trade with the possibility of getting much more in return."

Edward looks up at him skeptically. "You can't be serious."

"It's all I've ever wanted." Carlisle hears the lack of conviction in his own voice, and he hates it.

"How can you want something that won't let you be who you are?" Though the boy's voice is soft, there is bitterness there.

"It's my calling."

"You're sure?"

Carlisle nods, wishing desperately that it were true.

"It's not wrong, you know, wanting what you want…what we want." He reaches out as if to touch him, but Carlisle jerks his hand away.

The boy looks at him calmly, patiently. His eyes are kind and it infuriates Carlisle.

"Even the Catholic church sanctions intercourse for pleasure," he says after a moment, still looking at Carlisle. "Summa says God intends sex for both unification and enjoyment."

Carlisle takes a deep breath and ignores the part of him that is excited the boy actually read Aquinas, actually paid attention in his class. "Edward, you know as well as I that sexual activity is primarily intended for procreation among married couples." His mouth twists, "and, as I am neither married nor in any position to procreate, your argument is ridiculous."

Edward frowns, his forehead creasing. "And yet, the church has no problem with sex between infertile couples ."

Carlisle shakes his head. It is enough that he hardly knows what he believes anymore; he does not need the boy encouraging doubt. "Sodomy is expressly condemned by the Bible." His voice is quiet, harsh.

"Yet," Edward says, tilting his head to one side, "some clearly interpret sodomy as any unnatural act."

He narrows his eyes, "obviously."

"But that's just it, Professor," the boy says, lips curving into the hint of a smile.

Carlisle wants to groan in frustration; the child is beyond infuriating.

"And do you consider sexual intimacy with a woman a natural thing?" Edward leans forward; his knees nearly touch Carlisle's.

He frowns, "I don't understand."

The boy is still smiling. "Would you, personally, describe sex with a woman the natural way of things?"

His throat felt tight. "I…I don't know."

"Oh come now, Carlisle, you do know what 'natural' means?"

Edward has never used his given name before. Carlisle takes a deep breath, but the boy leans even closer. They aren't touching, but he can still feel the heat from his body, can smell the almond scent of his soap. He looks down, smoothing his palms over his thighs.

Edward catches his hand in his. His mouth is inches from Carlisle's cheek when he speaks, "honestly, would sex with a woman ever be instinctual to you?"

Carlisle shakes his head, hating that the boy's mere proximity leaves him dry-mouthed and wanting.

"Would it even turn you on?"

The words are barely whispered, but they slide down his spine, twist in his stomach, and make him hard. Carlisle forces himself to release the breath he is holding. He doesn't have to answer. Edward knows, of course; he can see right through him.

"And yet," the boy continues, brushing his thumb across the back of Carlisle's hand, "we've scarcely touched, and you make me so hard I can barely breathe."

Carlisle shifts rather uncomfortably.

Edward's eyes flicker down to his lap for a brief moment. Then he looks up again and smiles, "now, tell me that's not natural, for me…or you." His voice is low and rough.

Carlisle can hear the desire there, laced with something else entirely. It makes his heart pound and his cock swell; he has to close his eyes, clench his hands into fists to keep from reaching out, touching, kissing, tasting the boy once and for all. But instead, he takes a not entirely calming breath and manages to whisper, "I can't. I won't."

When he stands, he knows Edward can see how aroused he is. His cheeks are flushed with shame and excitement and desire, but it doesn't matter. "I'll see you at school," he says abruptly before turning and walking out of the café.

The door clangs shut behind him.


The next time he follows the boy into the restroom, he knows he will touch him.

So when Edward grabs his hand, tugs him into the stall, he follows without even pretending to resist.

And when they kiss, Carlisle is surprised he doesn't combust. Surely the press of the boy's lips – dry and chapped and perfect, perfect – is enough to tear him to pieces. At the very least, it changes something fundamental in his very being.

Everything seems sharper now, clearer.

His entire world is poised on a single point: his mouth on the boy's. His tongue slips against Edward's, and he's certain he feels him shudder as he gasps, clutches at his shoulders, slim fingers clenching hard enough to bruise.

Carlisle grows hard so fast he thinks he sees stars.

But the boy is pressed against him, and he can feel his erection as he rocks forward. It strains the fabric of his uniform slacks, pushing against his own arousal. Carlisle's breath catches. Nothing has felt this good in a very long time.

He doesn't think, can't think. After all, he's crowded in a tiny stall in the boy's restroom kissing, touching, grinding against a student. A very male student. No, he doesn't want to think. All he wants to do is feel Edward's body moving against his.

"Oh, oh God, Professor…"

"Call me Carlisle," he breathes because, for some reason, that makes this better.

"Fuck, Carlisle…" and his name on the boy's lips is the most decadent, debauched, divine thing he's ever heard.

"I could come like this," Edward says, mouth against his throat.

"Yes, yes," he hears himself say, pushing his hips hard against the boy's. "Make yourself come. I want to feel you."

But then the bathroom door bangs open, and Carlisle jerks away, presses his hand to Edward's mouth to cover his moan.

They remain absolutely still.

Carlisle doesn't breathe. He's not certain he can.

The intruder seems to take an exorbitantly long time pissing. Carlisle can practically see his resignation letter, can envision the look of disappointment, of condemnation on McNulty's face. But then they hear the rush of the faucet, the splash of water in the sink, and the door slams shut again.

Carlisle exhales.


They are back in the restroom.

Edward is pressed up against the wall. Carlisle is entranced by the sounds he makes as he runs his fingers down his chest. Edward bites his lips, tries to keep quiet. His shirt is rumpled and un-tucked as always; Carlisle's hand slides under the fabric. His skin is warm and soft, and he is thin and wiry against his palm.

The boy has Carlisle's jacket open; his tie is loosed. Edward presses his mouth to the exposed patch of skin just above his collarbone.

Carlisle is not sure when this…this frantic press of bodies, this groping like teenagers in bathroom stalls became okay. But by now it's nearly routine. This is the third time this week they've ended up here - after office hours, after the hallways have cleared out, after the school is quiet.

But when Edward's fingers move to the top button of his dress shirt, he catches his hand in his. Somehow he has managed to convince himself that it's all right as long as they both remain fully clothed.

It's laughable, of course. Just yesterday he slipped his thigh between Edward's legs and allowed the boy to rock against him until he came in his pants. Wetness had seeped through his uniform to stain the wool of Carlisle's dress slacks. He'll need to have them cleaned.

"Stop. I…I can't. We shouldn't," he manages to gasp against the boy's temple. Edward continues to lick and bite his way along Carlisle's jaw.

"Why?' he presses the question against the corner of his mouth. He can feel Edward's cock hard against his hip.

Because it's wrong. Because it's immoral. Because it's practically illegal. Because it's a sin. "Because I am your teacher."

Edward pulls away just enough to glare at him. Although his eyes are glassy, clouded with arousal, Carlisle thinks he does exasperation rather well.

"And because this is my place of employment," he tries again.

The boy steps back. Carlisle tries not to notice the way his forehead creases when he's thinking. "My mother doesn't get home from work until six."

Carlisle doesn't know whether to laugh or cry.

"I am not a teenager."

Edward frowns, clearly confused.

"I will not sneak around behind your mother's back."

The boy actually laughs. "Yes. And this is certainly much better."

"Shush," he murmurs, making a decision. "I have an apartment."

Edward smiles.


It's nice like this, cocooned in a blanket on the couch with the boy on top of him. Carlisle presses a kiss to Edward's forehead and tries not to think about everything he's throwing away.

Edward's cock is hot and hard through his trousers as he starts to move, slowly at first, watching Carlisle's eyes as if he might see something there – some reservation or doubt or regret.

But Carlisle just whispers, "yes, yes" and closes his eyes against the intensity of the boy's gaze.

When Edward reaches between them to tugs at his belt, Carlisle tenses. He realizes that, until this very moment, he hadn't known if he would actually be able to go through with it. The boy pauses, teeth worrying his bottom lip. "Is this okay?"

Carlisle nods and moves his hands on top of Edward's. Together they undo his flies.

When the boy's fingers curl around his cock for the first time, Carlisle has to bite his lip to keep from crying out, to keep from coming, to keep from falling to pieces. Edward shudders and moans above him and begins to slide his hand up and down. His palm is warm and dry and perfect against Carlisle's skin. He clutches at Edward's hips and arches up against him.

Nothing has ever felt so good before, and Carlisle wonders is this – his body moving under Edward's, his cock thrusting through the tight loop of his fingers – is what he's been searching for.

"I have to touch you," he gasps because he does. He thinks he might die if he doesn't.

"Oh God, God yes…" Edward says, voice shaking slightly. "Please."

Edward lifts his hips as Carlisle fumbles with his zip. His hands feel large and awkward, but somehow he manages to get the boy's pants undone. He's wearing gray cotton boxers; there's a damp spot darkening the material where his erection presses against the fabric. It's the most arousing thing Carlisle has ever seen. He closes his eyes and takes a deep breath, not wanting to come all over himself before he's even touched the boy.

He watches as Edward tugs his boxers down. He's trembling now, but he arches his back and presses his hips down hard against Carlisle's.

He slips his hands down to the curve of the boy's ass and moans, feeling the slide of cock against cock for the first time.

It's devastating.

Edward rests his forehead on Carlisle's; his hips rock faster and faster. He gasps, breaths coming in short pants, and Carlisle groans, pushing up to meet his thrusts.

"Come for me, Edward. I want to feel you come."

"Oh, Car— fuck…" he kisses him then. It's clumsy and awkward and more teeth than lips or tongue, but it doesn't matter because he feels Edward tense above him, warm wetness spurting between them, covering his cock, sliding over his stomach as he arches up again.

Then he's there too. Carlisle tries to hold back, tries to stop it from happening (can't believe that he is about to come against the body of another man), but it's too late, and that spiraling rush of pleasure takes his breath away, leaves him gasping against Edward's throat.

Afterward, they lie curled together on the sofa. Edward dozes against Carlisle's chest. He pets his hair. Traces the smooth line of his jaw with his thumb.

He feels content, happy even, for the first time in a very long while. But there is an undercurrent there that will not go away, like the presence of pain under a sedative. And it clenches at his chest - cold fingers tightening around his ribs – and leaves him feeling rather empty inside.

He doesn't regret it. No. Lying here with Edward, he knows that nothing could make him take it back. Still, he can't help but feel a bit sad, a bit cold, as though he's let something precious slip away.

For as long as he can remember, he has been working toward priesthood. He knows nothing else; it's all he's ever wanted. And he's not entirely sure what he'll do if it's all lost.


"Hey, there's something I'd like to try."

They are curled together by Carlisle's fireplace. The boy is naked; his clothes lie in a rumpled heap on the floor. Carlisle watches the flickering firelight cast shadows against his white gold skin.

"Oh?" he nips at Edward's ear. The boy squirms, deliberately pressing his hips back hard into Carlisle's.

Carlisle sighs, sliding a hand down to the curve of the boy's waist to hold him there while he continues to rub against him.

"Yes," Edward says, voice a bit rougher than usual, "something we haven't tried before."

"Why don't you touch yourself for me," he says in response, catching the boy's wrist in his hand, guiding it between his legs.

Edward's been hard since practically the moment they arrived at Carlisle's apartment, but for once he doesn't seem in any rush to come. Carlisle rolls his hips forward again. He's kept his boxers on; his own erection fits snugly between the crease of the boy's buttocks, separated only by thin cotton fabric.

Edward pulls away, and Carlisle groans at the loss of friction.

"No. I said there's something I want to try."

He watches the straight line of the young man's spine, the sway of slim hips as he walks over to his backpack, hastily discarded by the door. Edward bends over, perhaps a bit slower than absolutely necessary, and fishes for something in the front pocket.

Carlisle's breath catches when he sees what Edward's pulled from the bag.

"Edward, no, I…" he looks down, as the boy returns to his side. "We've talked about this. We can't…I won't."

"Shush," he says, pressing a kiss to Carlisle's forehead. "I just want to try your fingers." He glances at Carlisle's lap rather pointedly. "I'm not certain I'm ready for much else, anyway."

He swallows thickly. The boy is determined to test every last inch of his resolve.

"Here," Edward says, and Carlisle takes the vial of lubricant from his hand. The boy scoots closer. He sits on his knees, legs curled beneath him. His cock is hard and red; Carlisle can see a slick smear of pre-come against the jut of his hip.

He uncaps the bottle.

"Use a lot," Edward says, a bit breathless. "I've heard it feels really good."

"I have as well." Carlisle is surprised he manages to form the words; his mouth is very dry. The liquid is slippery smooth against his fingers. "Here, lie back."

The boy leans back on his elbows, letting his legs fall apart. He cants his hips encouragingly, and Carlisle has to bite back the moan. "Christ, you're gorgeous like that."

Edward flushes but doesn't look away.

Carlisle is amazed at the boy's confidence, that he is comfortable exposing himself like that, knees splayed, completely vulnerable and open. It's beautiful.

He trails a slick finger down his crease, and Edward hisses, bites his lip. "Yes, please…"

His skin is soft and warm, as he slides his finger up and down, up and down before circling around his opening. The boy gasps and shifts, lifting his hips. When Carlisle presses his finger in, his eyes darken.

"Oh…" Edward catches his lip between his teeth.

"How does it feel?" Carlisle asks breathlessly.

The boy blinks and smiles. "Nice. Full," he says simply.

Carlisle leans down to kiss the soft curve of his thigh, grateful that it hasn't even occurred to him to feel ashamed.

"I—oh," Edward says, as Carlisle twists his finger slightly. "Do that again."

He does, and the boy presses down against his hand with a soft groan.

He slides another finger in. Edward shudders, tightening against him and spreading his thighs even further apart.

Carlisle moves his fingers in and out, watching the boy's face. A flush fans across his chest, staining his pale skin pink.

"There?" he asks, turning his hand as Edward pants and shifts beneath him.


"Okay…" he breathes, continuing to slip his fingers in and out, to twist them inside, crook them just so, watching as the boy writhes beside him. He catalogs every motion and reaction, every jerk of his hips, every quick indrawn breath, every flutter of long eyelashes against warm cheeks.

He presses his fingers in deeper. "You like that, hmmm?

"Yeah," Edward lifts his hips again, matching the movement of Carlisle's hand. "God, yeah.

The boy's cock bounces against his stomach, but when Carlisle goes to curl his other hand around it, Edward bats him away. "No. Just like this. It's enough like this."

"Do you think you can come like this?" he asks after a moment, eyes mesmerized by the slide of his fingers in and out of the boy's body.

"I think so…" he arches again, as Carlisle finds the right angle, the perfect spot inside. "Oh, oh," he moans again, "can you touch yourself? I want you to come too."

It's a bit awkward, but Carlisle doesn't care. He sits up on his knees, stroking himself as he fingers the boy. It won't take long; he's too aroused by the sight of Edward spread out in front of him, legs splayed, cock damp and flushed and so hard for him. And the intensity of that slick warm heat around his fingers is nearly too much.

Carlisle can't help but imagine what it would feel like were it his cock instead, thrusting inside.

It's his undoing.

He cries out as he comes, body shaking, cock spurting over Edward's chest and belly.

His fingers lose their rhythm, but it doesn't matter. The boy throws his head back, flings an arm out to the side, and presses down hard against Carlisle's hand. "Oh God, Carlisle, I'm going to—"

With a sharp gasp he comes, muscles clenching around Carlisle fingers.

After a few breathless moments, Carlisle slips his hand free.

"Wow," Edward says, a fingertip trailing across his stomach, smearing their come together.

Carlisle flushes and climbs to his feet. When he returns from the kitchen with a warm cloth, the boy is still sprawled on his back on the rug. His hair sticks to his forehead; a bead of sweat slides down his neck. Carlisle catches it with a fingertip, then leans over to wipe Edward's stomach clean.

"That was fantastic," the boy sighs; his eyes flutter closed. "Just imagine how good it will feel when you actually fuck me."

Carlisle tenses. The room is warm with the fire, but he suddenly feels cold. He takes his shirt from the pile of clothes and pulls it on. It's far too wrinkled to wear, but he buttons it anyway. Edward stops him as he reaches for his pants, catching his hand in his.

"No, Carlisle, look at me."

He closes his eyes against the weight of the boy's stare; Edward cups his face in his palms, presses a soft kiss to his lips. "Carlisle…" he tries again.

He pulls away. "Edward, I'm sorry. I can't." His chest aches as he says the words, but it's true.

The boy frowns, hurt and anger flashing across his face, but he doesn't say anything else.

"It's late. You should get home."


Carlisle busies himself with his work.

He manages to go two weeks without speaking to the boy. He refuses to meet his eyes in class and leaves school almost as soon as the final bell rings. If Rossi notices, Carlisle will say he's spending more time in the university library on necessary research. It's not entirely a lie.

But the Headmaster does not comment on his sudden avoidance of office hours.

Edward still watches him; his expression wavers between irritation, anger and hurt. Carlisle pretends not to notice, does his best to ignore the painful ache in his chest (just below his heart, behind his ribs).

The boy stops raising his hand during class discussions; he seems to realize that Carlisle will not call on him anyway.

When he goes to confession, Carlisle cannot bring himself to admit what he has done.

He intends to. He really does. But when he's there, seated on the narrow pew in Madonna della Strada chapel, he can't make his lips form the words.

And that omission speaks volumes.

Carlisle is certain the two rosaries he receives as penance can do nothing to expiate his sins.


At the soft click of the door, Carlisle looks up from his grading. The boy stands there, hands shoved into the pockets of his hooded sweatshirt. The navy letters proclaiming the school's motto are faded and peeling.

"What are you doing for the holidays?" Edward asks after a moment; he bites his lips and looks uncharacteristically shy.

Carlisle sighs, rubbing his fingers against his temples. "My sister lives in Evanston," he answers finally. He's tired. Tired of wanting what he can't have. Tired of pretending he doesn't care.

"Oh," Edward stares down at his shoes.

He looks very young. Carlisle tries not to cringe.

"Yes. She has two daughters. I usually spend Christmas with them."

The boy nods, but doesn't say anything.

"My niece, Alice, is a senior this year as well."

"That's nice."

Christ,this is awkward. But he knew it would be. "Do you have any siblings?" Carlisle asks, realizing that he barely knows a thing about this boy. Though, he knows what his lips taste like. And he knows the way his skin, his hair feels underneath his hands.

"No. My mother and I usually go to midnight mass."

When the boy says nothing else, Carlisle sighs, "what do you want, Edward?"

"Isn't it obvious?"

Carlisle scrubs a hand across his face. "You shouldn't be here."

"You've been ignoring me."

"I'm busy," he says, voice flat.

"No, you're not."

"Yes, I am," he motions towards his desk; it's littered with stacks of papers and piles of ungraded essays.

"No. You're not any busier than usual."

Carlisle puts his pen down. Edward is still hovering in the doorway; he suddenly looks very unsure. "Why won't you talk me?" When he speaks again, his voice is soft, broken.

Something clenches inside Carlisle's chest at the words. "I cannot pay you any especial attention in class. You know that. Anything that would give the appearance of impropriety—"

Anger flashes across Edward's face. "Right. But actual impropriety is all fine and good, as long as it suits you!"

"Edward, please," he says, glancing past him into the empty hallway.

He deflates almost immediately, ducking his head. "No, I know. I'm sorry." He pulls the door closed behind him, then looks up again. "But you've barely said two words to me since…" he trails off, running a hand through already disheveled hair.

"What do you expect me to do?"

"You haven't been to the café."

"I've been busy."

"You haven't returned any of my phone calls."

Carlisle sighs, pinches the bridge of his nose between thumb and forefinger. "Edward, you shouldn't even have my number."

"But you can't ignore what—"

He cuts him off, "I can ignore whatever I like." Carlisle holds up a hand when the boy starts to protest. "No, it was a mistake."

"It wasn't!" Edward's voice is angry, but there is something else there too. A trace of desperation that makes Carlisle's heart clench. "It wasn't a mistake."

"Fine. A sin, then."

"No, not a sin either. It can't be. Not when it feels the way it does, not when we feel the way we do. You know that."

Carlisle shakes his head, "Edward, I—"

"Are you ever going to have sex with me?" The question seems to startle the boy as much as it does Carlisle.

He flushes and looks down. "I was under the impression that I'd already done."

"You know what I mean."

He does. "Edward, I can't." It's all he can do to keep his voice from shaking.

"But you want to. We both want to."

"It isn't a matter of what I want."

Edward finally moves from in front of the door. He sits down beside Carlisle, and he hates that the boy's very closeness send a flash of heat down his spine.

"It should be."

Carlisle resists the urge to bury his face in his hands. "I am your teacher."

"And I am eighteen and an adult."

"And I am going to be a priest!" His voice is too loud, but he doesn't care.

"But it's what you want," the boy says again, nearly pleading this time. "Can't you tell?"

Carlisle takes a deep breath, and feels something shift deep inside his chest. He's tired. Tired of wanting. Tired of hating himself for wanting. And tired of knowing that he will never stop wanting. Besides, Edward looks beautiful there with his head down and his hair sticking up in all directions. He sighs, "come to dinner with me tonight."

The boy looks up, startled. Carlisle ignores the splash of pink that spreads across his cheeks. "Are you…are you certain?"

"I assume you remember how to get to my apartment?"

"Yeah." His smile is brilliant.

"It's just dinner, Edward."

"Right. Of course, Professor."

Carlisle is certain he hears the boy chuckle as he slips past him and out of the room.


Carlisle makes spaghetti.

The boy chatters nervously throughout dinner. He finds he enjoys hearing about his class work, his family, his friends."

"This is nice, you know," Edward says, pushing his plate away. Carlisle thinks 'nice,' perhaps, cannot begin to describe it.

After all, everything is changing; his entire world is coming apart at the seams, unraveling into pale brilliant threads right before his eyes.

When their fingertips brush over dishes, the boy tenses, jerks his hand away, but Carlisle catches it in his.

"No," Carlisle curls his fingers around Edward's. His skin is warm and damp. The plate he's holding clatters into the sink; soapsuds slosh over the brim of the washbasin.

His fingertip smoothes over Edward's wrist, traces the veins there. The boy's breath catches.

"There are some things about myself I cannot change," he whispers. His voice is not his voice; it is too low, too breathless.

"I know."

"I am not sure I can be what you want me to be."

Edward chews on his lip. His cheeks are very pink. "I only want you to be you."

Carlisle nods, reaching up to push the boy's hair off his forehead. He leans into the touch. "I'm still not certain I can actually do this."

"But you'd like to try?" The hope and excitement in the Edward's voice makes Carlisle's skin heat, makes his pulse flutter madly.

He brushes his fingers across the boy's lower lip. Edward opens his mouth slightly, and Carlisle slips his thumb inside. The boy sucks on it gently; his tongue is soft and wet.

Carlisle shudders. "I can't keep pretending I don't want you."

Edward takes a step closer. "And when you are ordained?"

"No," Carlisle pulls back, "you must understand. If I… If we do this, then I am making a choice."

Edward nods, threading his fingers through Carlisle's. He looks down at their joined hands. It feels perfect. It feels right.

"I want to be what you want," the boy whispers, mouth very close to Carlisle's cheek.

"You are. You have to know you are."

Edward blushes but leans forward, rocking onto the balls of his feet. He drags his tongue along his lip, and Carlisle can't help himself. He kisses him, hand reaching out to curve around the back of the boy's head. Edward tastes of oregano and marinara and spice; he opens his mouth against Carlisle's, slides his tongue against his.

The kiss is soft and hesitant at first, but Edward is already growing hard.

With a soft groan, he rocks his hips forward. Carlisle can feel the jut of his erection between his thighs. It's perfect.

The young man's eyes go rather wide, as if he's surprised by his body's response. He tries to pull away, but Carlisle just holds him tighter. "No. I like it," he whispers, "you know how much I like it." And Edward blushes a lovely pink but relaxes against him, resting a warm cheek against Carlisle's chest.

Carlisle imagines slipping a thigh between the boy's legs. Letting him rub against him until he comes, like he did once in the boys' restroom. But instead he kisses him again, roughly this time, and slips a hand between them to smooth his fingers over the firm bulge there.

"Oh…oh God," he moans, jerking his hips forward, arching into Carlisle's touch. "Yes, yes, touch me, please."

Carlisle chuckles and pulls his hand away, placing both palms on the boy's shoulders and pushing him back against the cabinet. "Here, stay still," he says when Edward tries to kiss him again.

Carlisle undoes his belt, the button of his jeans; he is surprised his hands don't shake as he lowers the boy's zip. Edward's fingers clutch at the countertop behind him; his knuckles are white. Carlisle pushes his pants over his hips, halfway down his thighs, dropping to the floor in front of him.

Edward's quiet gasp sends a shiver down his spine.

He slides his cheek over the outline of the boy's cock, warm and damp through thin fabric. Edward moans and watches, as Carlisle hooks his fingers in the waistband of his boxers and eases them down over his erection.

Edward's cock is as lovely as he remembers. It's short and thick and flushed against his belly; Carlisle thinks he might understand for the first time what it means to have his mouth water. The boy is already trembling as he presses his lips to the slick curve of pink cockhead.

He skates a hand over Edward's stomach, feels the muscles taut and firm under his palm, and slides his tongue along the length of his shaft. The boy groans and rocks forward; Carlisle curves his fingers around his hips to hold him still.

Edward tastes amazing – musky, bitter, and sweet. It's addicting. Carlisle's own cock is aching and hard, pressed against the rough wool of his trousers.

He takes more of the boy's cock into his mouth, sucking gently, and Edward squirms under his hands. His breath is coming in short pants.

Carlisle presses a palm between his own thighs. It's all he can do not to rub fast and hard until he comes all over his trousers, against his own hand.

Edward is shaking now; he tries to spread his legs further apart, but they are caught by the material of his jeans, bunched round his knees. He groans and bucks his hips, pushing his cock deeper into Carlisle's mouth. "Oh…oh, Car—" he gasps, fingers clutching at his shoulders, "I can't…"

When Carlisle curls his hand around the base of his erection, slides his lips up and down once more, Edward cries out, cock pulsing and filling Carlisle's mouth with salty bitter fluid.

He rocks back on his heels and looks up at him. Edward is slumped back against the counter. His face is flushed, his eyes dazed and unfocused.

He's positively gorgeous.

"Oh, fuck, Carlisle. That was incredible."

"Would you like to go to my bedroom?" The words are out of his mouth before he can stop them. But, once he's said them, he realizes it's all right. He wants nothing more than to take the boy to bed. Edward nods, and Carlisle stands up again.

"You want me, don't you?" Edward says, reaching out tentatively to trail his fingertips along the placket of his trousers. Carlisle hisses at the faint brush of contact, and the boy bites his lip.

"Isn't it obvious?" He presses a kiss to the boy's mouth, knowing Edward will taste himself on his tongue. They both moan. "Come to bed with me."

"Okay," Edward says simply, pulling his pants back on. He doesn't bother to zip them.

Carlisle takes his hand in his and leads him down the narrow hallway to his room.

Edward pauses in the doorway; Carlisle feels strangely on display as the boy glances around. Like the rest of his apartment, the room is simply furnished. But the bed is large and comfortable; it's flanked by a single bedside cabinet. A heavy dresser lines one wall. Its surface is bare aside from his keys, wallet, and a single photograph in a silver frame. His mother stares up at him; her hand rests on his six-year-old self's shoulder.

Edward laughs and walks over to the picture. "You were a cute little thing."

Carlisle smiles, but his breath catches in his throat when the boy turns back to him. He's certain Edward has never looked at him quite like that before.

"I want you."

The words run like ink, like water over Carlisle's skin. "I know."

"All of you."

"I…I know."

And then Edward is in front of him, his hands on Carlisle's arms pulling him closer. He is hard again as he leans into him, and Carlisle groans at the press of his body, his cock against his own.

Edward tilts his chin up toward Carlisle, and he smoothes his fingers down the slender column of his neck, feels the boy's pulse flutter beneath his fingertips. Edward exhales; his breath is warm against his skin.

Christ, he wants this.

When Edward kisses him, his mouth is soft and warm. His tongue slips between Carlisle's lips, licks gently at the roof of his mouth. "You're mine," he gasps. "All mine," and something warm snakes up Carlisle's spine at the words.

"Yes, yes…" He pushes the boy back toward the bed, and Edward tugs him down on top of him. The boy's body is long and lean beneath him. Carlisle straddles his hips, pushing his t-shirt up to feel the warm, smooth skin of his stomach sliding under his palms. He leans forward and presses his mouth to Edward's throat. His skin is damp, flushed with arousal and excitement, salty sweet on his tongue.

Edward groans. Carlisle can feel his cock hard under his thigh. It sends a shudder of want through him. The boy laughs, lifting his hips again. "Please," he says, and Carlisle nods.

He jerks Edward's shirt over his head, mussing his hair further, and flings it onto the floor. The boy's skin is pale in the dim light of the room, his nipples coppery and hard. Carlisle runs a hand down his chest, traces a line across the smooth jut of a hipbone.

Edward presses up on his palms and kisses him, teeth sharp against his bottom lip. "I want—" he gasps into his mouth, arching underneath him.

"I know."

Edward's hands are pulling at the buttons on Carlisle's shirt. One pops free, bounces on the coverlet. He laughs, "sorry, but you need to be naked."

Carlisle couldn't agree more. Together they get the rest of his buttons undone, and Edward pushes the shirt off his shoulders. Then, the boy's hands are yanking at his belt. He lifts his hips as Edward pushes his trousers down his thighs. He kicks them off, reaching up to kiss his way down the boy's pale stomach. "Perfect."

Edward smiles and rolls them over. He sits up on his knees, jeans hanging open and low on his hips. Carlisle leans up on one elbow, hand tugging at the boy's pants. Edward's fingers card through his hair, twisting and pulling until Carlisle gasps. "Take them off," he growls, and together they tug Edward's jeans down, toss them onto the floor.

When Edward bends over, his cock slides wetly against Carlisle's hip.


"Such words for a priest," the boy laughs.

"I'm not a priest."

"Prove it."

"Fuck," he says again.

Edward bites at his jaw, pressing his cock down against his stomach. Carlisle's hands are on his back, smoothing over his hips.

"You're beautiful." He brings a hand up to Edward's face.

The boy smiles, "I suppose that's why you can't resist me."

A strange feeling slips over him at the words. He realizes, perhaps, the truth in them. And he also realizes, yet again, that he's poised on some great precipice. A line will forever be drawn, dividing his life between the time before and the time after he's slept with the boy.

Carlisle takes a deep breath.

Edward is looking at him, concern flitting across his lovely face. "Is something wrong?" His voice is soft, hesitant.

He smiles. "No. Nothing is wrong." And, for the first time, he knows that truth of that statement. Nothing is wrong. And it's intoxicating, exhilarating, and disconcerting all at once.

The relief is clear in the boy's expression.

Carlisle slides his mouth along his jaw and kisses him again, slowly this time, while the boy rocks above him, parts his legs wider, clutches at his shoulders. Carlisle's hands move down his sides to grasp his hips, hold him still. "This is madness."

"Yes," Edward nips at his earlobe. "I know. Now fuck me."

Carlisle shudders and curls his fingers around the boy's cock; it's hard and damp and he can feel the steady thrum of his pulse as he slides his hand up and down. The bed creaks as he shifts his weight, continues to move his hand.

"Oh, oh," Edward throws his head back, thrusting through the loop of his fingers. "So good."

And Carlisle slides his hands over the small of his back to smooth down the curve of his buttocks. He dips his fingers in between. "Please tell me you've done this before." He hears the urgency in his own non-question. "I mean…have you?" he gasps, stumbling over the words. He both hopes and fears that he's the first.

Edward blushes and shakes his head. "No, everything I've done, I did with you."

Carlisle isn't certain if he's relieved or horrified that he's damning the boy along with himself.

"Do you have lube?"

"I…yes." Carlisle rolls Edward off him and leans across to his bedside drawer. That afternoon he'd left campus and driven halfway across town to avoid being seen as he covertly purchased a small tube of lubricant and box of Durex. He'd felt quite like a guilty teenager. The package is cool against his palm. "Here, spread you legs."

The clear slick liquid pools in the palm of his hand.

When he presses one finger in, the boy cants his hips, parts his thighs wider. "Oh Christ," he whispers, head falling back, "that feels…oh fuck..."

Carlisle slides another slick finger in, curving them, pressing them deeper. Edward is tight, tighter than even he remembers. It makes his heart pound and his cock ache. The boy twists his fingers in the bed sheets and rocks his hips as he stretches him. "Do you think you can find that spot again?" Edward gasps, thudding his head against the pillow. "The one where..."

Carlisle crooks his fingers, brushing across that smooth nub, and the boy cries out, "oh fuck, yeah, that one."

"Prostate, I believe," Carlisle says with a smirk, sliding his fingers away. Edward glares. But Carlisle is fumbling with the box beside him. The foil packet glints in the moonlight as he tears it open; the condom is filmy against his fingers.

Edward pushes up on his elbows, watching as if fascinated while Carlisle rolls it down his length.

The condom is smooth and tight and dulls the urgency Carlisle feels just enough. But then the boy's fingers are there, slippery with lube, stroking his cock softly, and Carlisle wants nothing more than to bury himself inside his tight, warm body.

He catches Edward's hand, gently pulls it from his cock and positions himself between the boy's legs. Edward stares up at him, eyes wide and open. Carlisle envies that look of trusting apprehension on his lovely face. The fact that he doesn't feel ashamed of what they are about to do.

"Have you ever?" Edward asks suddenly, lip caught between straight white teeth.

"Once," Carlisle answers, "a long time ago. Before I started Seminary."

The boy nods. "Who was he?"

"She was someone I used to know. An old friend from university."

Edward nods again, but his forehead creases. It is clear the admission surprised him. "But you're—" he begins. Carlisle places a fingertip on his mouth, stopping him.

"I wanted very much to want her," he sighs, "but I think I knew, even then, that I…"

"That you didn't fancy girls that way," the boy finishes for him.

"Yes." Carlisle hates the small flutter of disquiet that spreads in his stomach; he feels his erection falter slightly. "I wanted desperately to be normal, to not have this weakness…"

"It's not a weakness," Edward says, voice fierce, eyes flashing darkly. Carlisle looks away.

"Carlisle, please…" Edward smoothes his hand down his cheek, "it's not a weakness. You have to know that."

Carlisle swallows thickly and nods. "I do."

Edward smiles softly, brushing his thumb across Carlisle's lip. "I could love you, you know? If you'd let me."

Carlisle tenses, something clenches deep within his chest. "Edward, I…"

"Shush," the boy says, curling warm fingers around his cock, stroking him back to full hardness. He positions it between his thighs, and cants his hips. "Now fuck me."

With a groan, Carlisle pushes in, slowly, carefully, gritting his teeth as his cock slips past the tight right of muscle. Edward arches beneath him, lip caught between his teeth. Carlisle's body shakes as he fights to hold himself still, to allow the boy to adjust to the blunt press of his cock inside him. He has to fight the urge to move, to thrust hard and fast into that tight, slick heat.

Edward groans and pushes against him.

"Fuck," Carlisle whispers, staring down between them to where they're joined. He watches as he slides in deeper; he grips the boy's hip with one hand, steadying himself on the other, and takes a deep breath.

It's positively exquisite.

And then Edward looks up at Carlisle, and his eyes are so damned green as he gasps, "more."

He thrusts in, hips meeting the boy's.

"Oh, God…"

"Are you all right?" Carlisle asks, tensing slightly. He slides out slowly before pushing in again. He will stop (he will) if the boy wants him to - even if it's the hardest thing he's ever had to do.

But Edward just laughs and shifts his hips experimentally. They both gasp. "Fuck, yes," he breathes, "Now move."

Carlisle does. He thrusts in quick, short movements, curving an arm beneath the boy's body to pull him closer. His skin and is slick and warm against Carlisle's, and he can feel his cock, pressed hard between their stomachs. Edward digs his fingers into Carlisle's shoulders, and moves his hips to meet each stroke. Their breaths are ragged now, and Edward sucks at Carlisle's neck; his teeth are sharp against soft skin.

"So I guess," the boy pants, "I'm your first." He arches up, and Carlisle's hips snap against his. "The first to do this to you," his voice is rough and breathless, but there's a playful lilt to his tone that makes Carlisle smile. He nips at his collarbone, and Edward moans.

"Yes, I suppose you are," he groans against his jaw, pushing into him harder, faster. The boy flings a hand out to press against the headboard, as he lifts his hips off the bed.

"Good," Edward groans, squeezing his eyes shut, "just…don't…stop."

Carlisle is breathing hard; his cock aches, and he can feel the burn deep against his spine, coiling tightly. He knows he can't last much longer. He slips a hand between them to tug at Edward's cock.

The boy gasps and writhes against him, "Please…yes harder." His tongue drags along Carlisle's throat; his teeth scrape at his shoulder. It's nearly too much.

"Come on, Edward," he says, voice strained, "I want you to come while I'm inside you."

The boy's eyes fly open; his cheeks are pink and flushed, and his hips jerk as Carlisle fists his cock. "Car—I…" With a sharp cry, he comes, muscles clenching and clenching around him. Carlisle's fingers are coated with sticky wet. Edward slumps back against the pillows breathless, and he rises up on his knees to push into him harder, again and again.

"Please, Carlisle," the boy murmurs, reaching out to stroke his fingers gently along the side of his face. "Let go. I want to watch you come." And the boy licks his lips, and circles his hips once, and it's enough.

Carlisle gasps as his cock pulses and jerks inside the boy. He collapses on top of him then, and they lay there, arms and legs entwined as they both struggle to catch their breaths. After a few moments, he slides out of the boy, holding the base of the condom so it doesn't slip off, and he rolls over. Carlisle's legs feel shaky and weak as he walks to the bathroom. The condom hits the bottom of the trash bin with a dull thud.

He feels strange. He takes a deep breath and fights to hold back the swell of guilt that threatens to wash over him. He wanted this. He did. He splashes some water on his face and looks in the mirror, thinking perhaps he should look differently now that everything has changed. His mouth is red, swollen. His fingers trace the purpling outline of a bruise just below his collarbone. He can see the indentation of the boy's teeth and sighs.

"Carlisle?" Edward calls out from the bedroom. His voice is soft, unsure. "Are you coming back?"

He takes another deep breath, running a washcloth under the warm water, and then he turns, flicking off the light.

The boy is sitting up on the ruin on his bed. The sheets are twisted and bunched around his hips. He looks nervously at Carlisle, teeth worrying his bottom lip. His anxious expression makes Carlisle's chest clench. He forces a smile, "here," he says softly, wiping Edward's stomach clean.

The boy curls his fingers in the blanket. "Are you all right?"

He nods.

"You're sure? Because I…"

"Shush," he says gently, pressing a soft kiss to Edward's lips. "I'm fine. Everything is fine."


He should have known it was too good to be true.

After all, he works in a high school. Students talk. And, he supposes, perhaps, they were not always as discreet as they should have been.

Still, when Rossi's email arrives in his inbox, Carlisle feels as though a stone has dropped into his stomach.

The short walk to the Headmaster's office feels not unlike he's heading to his own execution. Carlisle's palms are sweaty when he arrives, trying his very best not to look like an errant schoolboy.

"Ah, Carlisle, come in," the man says, glancing up from his paperwork. "And shut the door."

Carlisle takes a deep breath; he is certain the pounding of his heart is audible across the room. He sits down.

Rossi regards him for several long moments; his eyes are speculative behind the wire frames of his glasses. "I've recently received information of a most alarming nature," he says finally.

"Oh?" Carlisle is surprised his mouth formed the word. Everything tastes of ash.

"Yes," the man says slowly. "It seems, a number of insinuations have been made regarding you and a particular student." He rifles through a stack of papers, though Carlisle is certain the man recalls the name. "A Mr. Edward Masen." He pauses deliberately, steepling thick fingers and gauging Carlisle's reaction.

He does his best to keep his expression perfectly blank.

"Now, do you have any idea what this is about?"

"No, sir." The words feel like shards of glass on his tongue, but he keeps his eyes fixed straight ahead, resisting the urge to look away.

"The allegations are quite serious."

Carlisle waits, gut twisting, as Rossi continues to look at him, eyes dark and calculating.

"Apparently, there are a number of rumors circulating," the man says, voice flat and low, "about your and Mr. Masen's relationship." He pauses, watching Carlisle over the top of his spectacle. "Rumors of a most shocking and scandalous nature."

Carlisle shakes his head; his heart jerks painfully against his ribs.

Rossi frowns. "Many people believe that the two of you are intimately, inappropriately involved."

"I…no," Carlisle swallows thickly. His skin feels very hot. "It's not true," he says, doing his best to keep his voice level and calm. "You know I would never do anything like that. I would never lay a hand on a student." In his list of sins, lying seems rather trivial.

The man nods, "I would certainly hope not."

Carlisle's fingers clutch at the arms of his chair. He forces himself to relax.

Rossi is looking at him again. He leans forward slightly. "Why then, Carlisle, do you believe these injurious rumors are circulating?"

"I don't know," Carlisle shakes his head. "Unless I've angered someone. A low grade, perhaps? or an assignment believed to be unfair?" He tries not to sound too hopeful, but he's quite certain Rossi isn't buying the explanation.

"Perhaps," the man strokes his fingers along his jaw, "but that simply doesn't make sense. The students surely realize what a serious infraction it is to level accusations of this nature against a member of our faculty."

"Maybe it's some sort of grudge against the boy," Carlisle tries. "You know teenagers can be rather malicious at times. Perhaps someone has started the rumors with the intention of hurting Edward."

The man's eyebrows rise slightly at his use of the boy's first name. Carlisle tries not to flinch, but he feels ill. He is suddenly certain the man knows far more than he is letting on.

"But Mr. Masen is such a likable young man," Rossi says, after a moment, drumming his fingers on the desk. "I can't believe any of his peers would invent such a slanderous falsehood simply to be cruel."


"Yet, there must be a reason, Carlisle. Think. Have you done anything? Said anything?"

He goes to shake his head again but stops. "Well, the boy does study in my room sometimes."


"Yes – during office hours," Carlisle adds quickly. "He is quite interested in theology."

"I see."

"I felt it was only appropriate to encourage him."

"Of course." The man looks at Carlisle, clearly waiting for him to continue.

"Perhaps I should monitor the amount of time he spends in my room," he says, and Rossi nods.

"I think that will be wise."

Carlisle desperately hopes the conversation is over. He's not sure he can handle another moment of interrogation. "I am sorry if anyone has gotten the wrong idea."

Rossi takes his glasses off, wiping one lens with a white handkerchief. "Yes, well, we must be very careful in our line of work, Carlisle. Any hint of impropriety and the wolves begin circling."

"Yes, Father."

"And, unfortunately, it does seem that everyone loves a good scandal."

Carlisle nods again and waits to see if he'll be dismissed, if he's somehow managed to convince the man that he's not doing the unthinkable.

Rossi puts his glasses back on. "The board of governors will not be pleased."

He feels as though he's been doused in ice water. "I…I'm sorry?"

"Something like this - should word get out - would be simply devastating to our reputation, to our school's good name."

"But it's not true."

Rossi waves a hand dismissively. "It hardly matters. That such a rumor exists is more than enough to spark outrage in our community."

Carlisle feels rather nauseous. He smoothes his hands over his thighs and tries to calm the pounding of his heart.

"And, at a time like this," the man continues, "with the Church already under attack from so many. And you," Rossi's eyes narrow, "in preparation for priesthood."

Carlisle says nothing; he waits for what he knows is coming.

"You do understand, don't you?"

"I…yes, Father," Carlisle hangs his head.

"Well then, I will expect your resignation at the end of term," the man says, and for the first time his eyes look a little sad.

"Of course," it is all Carlisle can do not to choke on the words.

"I will recommend a position at the University."

His face must reveal his surprise because Rossi sighs. "You are a good scholar, Carlisle. And an excellent researcher. I believe such a placement will better suit you." He smiles, and suddenly looks very tired. "Yes. I believe such a change will be good for all of us."

"Thank you, Father."

As Carlisle leaves the office, he can feel Rossi's eyes fixed on his back, searing and hot on his skin.


Two weeks later, Carlisle finishes his dissertation.

A week after that, he meets with McNulty.

"Your thesis is superb, Carlisle," the man says, leaning back in his chair. "Though I'd no doubt it would be. The committee will absolutely love it."

"I hope so," Carlisle has been working on his doctorate for so long, it feels odd to finally be so close to achieving his goal.

"Yes, yes, you're a shoo-in for approval," McNulty smiles. "Your defense, really, is just a formality at this point."

Carlisle nods and takes a large gulp of coffee in an attempt to calm his nerves. He's planned out exactly what he wants to say to the man, but that doesn't make it any easier.

"I must admit, though, I was rather surprised to hear you weren't planning to return to St. Ignatius in the fall."

The man regards him curiously, and Carlisle swallows.

"I thought you enjoyed teaching."

"I do. I mean, well, that's actually what I'd like to speak with you about."

McNulty folds his hands together and waits for Carlisle to continue.

He takes a deep breath. "I've made some decisions…" He twists his coffee mug between his palms; this shouldn't be so difficult.

"And," his mentor prompts gently.

"And I won't be taking my final vows."

McNulty's mouth opens in surprise, but he manages to recover rather quickly. "Now, Carlisle, we've talked about this. A few doubts are only natural, and you've got time to—"

"No," he cuts him off. "I've thought long and hard about this, and it's the only choice."

"Carlisle," McNulty says again, but he holds up a hand.

"I have too much respect for my faith, too much respect for the Church to take vows I would be unable to keep."

The man's eyes go a bit wide at that, but he nods slowly. "Of course, Carlisle, I know that. But still, you will make an excellent priest. If only you would talk to me. Tell me what's been troubling you. Perhaps we can—"

"I'm queer, Patrick."

The look on the man's face is priceless.


Carlisle finds the boy in the kitchen, the Sunday comics spread out on the table beside an obscenely large box of Cocoa Puffs. He chuckles, and Edward looks up startled. He is dressed only in boxers, bare feet tucked up beneath him.

"What?" he asks around a mouthful of sugary cereal.

Carlisle shakes his head. "Your choice of breakfast foods is appalling."

The boy huffs, "as if yours is any better." He eyes the mug in Carlisle's hands pointedly.

He shrugs; he rarely has anything but coffee in the morning. "Touché."

Edward returns to his reading; Carlisle takes the seat opposite and watches him. He smiles as the boy spoons another too large portion of chocolate puffs into his mouth. A drop of milk slides down his chin; he catches it with his tongue. Carlisle does not find the sight appealing.

"What?" Edward asks again after a moment. He does not look up from his paper.


"It is something," the boy says, pale fingers smoothing over colorful newsprint. "You're watching me."

Carlisle laughs, and Edward glances up again.

"I can't help it. I like to look at you."

Edward frowns, tilting his head; bronze hair tumbles into his eyes.

"You're beautiful, you know."

"I—" the boy looks down, suddenly shy. Carlisle enjoys the rosy pink that splashes across his cheeks.

"You are." He reaches out to brush his palm against the back of Edward's hand. "I've thought so since the moment I first saw you."

Edward smiles at that. "Much to your perpetual chagrin."

"Perhaps." Carlisle strokes his thumb along the boy's wrist, fingers circling the sharp bone there. "I suppose it is terribly inconvenient to fall for someone, when one's determined to become a priest."

Edward's lovely eyes darken; he frowns slightly. "I'm still not certain what to feel about that…"

"Stop," Carlisle says cutting him off. "It's very much for the best."

"How can you be so sure?"

He takes Edward's hand in his. "Come now, we both know I would have made a terrible priest."

"You might know that," Edward says, a hint of a smile playing at his lips, "but I've chosen to withhold judgment."

Carlisle laughs again, twining their fingers together. "Well, I don't suppose it matters now."

Edward frowns again. "But it was your calling."

"No, he says firmly," hand clenching against Edward's. "If it were my calling, I would not have found you."

He says nothing in response but glares down into his bowl rather defiantly.

"Edward, look at me." Carlisle smiles at the boy's scowl. "Simply because I've abandoned the priesthood does not mean I've abandoned my faith. You know this."

"I do, it's just—"

"No. If anything, my faith is stronger now because I no longer doubt what God wants me to do."

Edward does not look convinced. Carlisle sighs; they've had this conversation before.

"And your job…"

"My job is actually what I wanted to talk with you about this morning."

Edward narrows his eyes. Carlisle knows he still feels guilty about his resignation. It is absurd, of course; Carlisle is solely responsible for his own actions, but the boy is incredibly stubborn. "Northwestern called."

Edward's head jerks up; wisps of red frame his face.

Carlisle takes another sip of coffee.

"And…?" he prompts, impatiently.

"And it seems they would be happy to hire a Doctor of Theology with a specialty in medieval morality."

The boy's grin is brilliant.

"So it appears," Carlisle continues, "we have a choice."

Edward nods. "Northwestern, Boston, or Tulane."

Carlisle pulls Edward's hand to his lips. Presses a soft kiss to his palm. "Yes. So the moment you make a decision about your university plans, I'll respond to my job offers."

Edward traces a fingertip over Carlisle's knuckles, before lacing their hands together once again. "I hear New Orleans is lovely in the fall."