Thanks to my beta, mxpi1970, for her patience and support.

As always, I own nothing. Stephenie Meyer owns all. More to come as soon as I can.


All I Want to Hear

Chapter 7

When they stop for breath, Carlisle encourages Edward to rest before his shift begins. It is with the utmost reluctance that Edward agrees, but not until he claims another kiss, needing the reassurance of Carlisle's presence, the feel of his lips, his hair between his fingers. Not wanting to let go for a second, Carlisle's words are muffled against his lover's neck.

"I'm so sorry. I meant to call you, but I couldn't from the air. Once I landed I just wanted to get here - to you."

Edward's face glows with happiness.

"I was awake, waiting for you to ring. But this... this is so much better than a call." He grins before glancing at the clock. "I don't know how I'm going to sleep now."

Carlisle strokes his face, taking pleasure in relearning how Edward's eyelashes brush his cheeks when his eyes drift closed, his face flushed from their enthusiastic kisses.

"Come on, we can talk in the morning when you get home."

He leads Edward upstairs to bed, intending to settle him and then make himself a coffee before starting his own work. However, Edward pulls him down into an embrace, snuggling against his chest.

"Stay here? Just 'til I fall asleep?"

Carlisle acquiesces, the insomniac within relaxing now that he is where he wants to be. He shucks his jeans and stretches out, holding Edward close. Within a few short minutes both men are sleeping, without worry or dream, peaceful and calm.

~o.O.o~

Carlisle wakes first, his bearings lost for a moment. His first sensory reminder is the sound of Edward's soft breathing followed by the heat from his skin seeping through his clothes. He smiles and shifts enough to face him, his arm slung across the pillow behind Edward's head to touch his hair. Pressing a kiss to his forehead, he is content to lay there and wait for him to stir. When Edward's eyes flutter open, a smile breaks across his sleepy face, a smile mirrored back at him.

"I didn't dream it – you're here."

"I'm here."

His own voice, rough and low, conveys such emotion that he frowns, a moment of uncertainty colouring his thoughts until Edward responds.

"I'm glad."

With just two words, all uncertainty flees his mind and he touches his lips to Edward's, the very tip of his tongue eliciting a gentle groan when it parts them to flutter a fleeting caress.

Edward's hands are roaming his chest.

"You're wearing too many clothes. We need to sort this out."

"Sort this out do you mean?" Carlisle's hand slips inside Edward's underwear and strokes the eager flesh straining upward, demanding attention. Edward's answering growl is reward enough, his words little more than a rasp.

"I want to touch you."

In the short time it takes for Carlisle to pull his shirt off over his head and kick off his underwear, Edward has thrown his own underwear across the room and begun to explore the warm body freed from its fabric confines. Falling into a deep kiss, their bodies lay flush together, delicious friction found by the smallest undulation of hips. Need increases steadily and legs intertwine, their movements increasing in speed. Kisses become frantic; hands grasp firm buttocks holding their bodies tight together, hips bucking without rhythm, driven by pure sensation. Their breathing escalates, desperate moans escaping in blasts of hot breath, muffled only by the tantalising touch of questing tongues. Their hips are rolling in to each other now, flesh reddened and swollen from both arousal and their close proximity to orgasm. Edward is first, his head lifted from the pillow to meet Carlisle's gaze of open, blatant need when his body erupts between them. For Carlisle, Edward's spasming body and the sight of his release is enough for him to cry out, his own body stiffening before hot splatters land on his flushed chest and stomach, splashing Edward's neck in its force.

Gasping, heaving breaths fill the air. When Edward speaks it is raw and heartfelt.

"I can't explain how much I missed you."

Carlisle can only nod, overwhelmed, his hands stroking and touching.

~o.O.o~

For Carlisle, to be with Edward is to be able to breathe again – to feel the tight bands on his chest loosen and fall away.

Edward has left for work and Carlisle is alone now, showered and dressed in Edward's robe. He drinks his coffee and makes another, sipping the beverage while he reacquaints himself with the apartment. Seeing his book on Edward's shelf, he selects it and sees how thumbed it is, how well read. His heart is full, both of gratitude and wonder at this connection they have forged together. He wanders downstairs, takes out his laptop and settles in to write at Edward's kitchen counter, a coffee cup always within reach. Outside the window the sun slips below the horizon, painting the sky with vibrant fire.

Carlisle writes, inspired and invigorated.

A mere two cups of coffee later, he looks in wonder at the amount he has achieved. His editor may get this book earlier than anticipated. Without checking the clock, he wanders into the lounge and sprawls on the sofa intending to watch a little television until Edward comes home.

He is asleep in moments, his sleep-starved body relaxed and receptive to the idea of rest in this comforting environment.

Edward finds him there when he returns from his shift and smiles at the sight. He shakes his head and mutters to himself:

"I could get used to this."

Carlisle stirs, his eyes opening wide for a second, surprised to see the television screen is dark, the remote lying on the floor beside him.

"Morning, sleepyhead."

The amused voice jolts Carlisle into wakefulness and he jumps, rubbing his eyes. His voice is rough with sleep.

"I sat down for a minute. I was going to watch...something..." He gestures in a vague motion at the television.

"Did you get lots done?"

"Yeah – it was pretty amazing actually. It was as if my mind unlocked and everything came flooding out. It hasn't been like that for a while." His hand gesticulates in the air before he pushes himself upright, his hand scraping through his hair. "How was work?"

"Quiet; we had several guests check out yesterday and the next influx is booked for Monday – there's some conference going on. We're booked out." He drops down into the sofa, his arms snaking around Carlisle. "I was thinking that we go out on a date. What d'you think about a trip to the movies?"

"What's playing?"

"Who cares; I just want an excuse to make out with you in the dark."

"I'll check the listings."

Edward's grin lights up the room.

An hour later they are seated in the back row of an almost empty theatre, an old black and white movie playing. Their lips find each other before the main characters' paths even cross, and they kiss as though the world may end with the rolling credits; a desperation that speaks of burgeoning feelings that neither is yet ready to articulate.

~o.O.o~

On the walk home, Edward poses a question that has been burning in his mind since Carlisle arrived the day before.

"So... how long are you staying here with me?"

He hears the slow intake of breath. Carlisle looks at him under his lashes, his head down.

"How long am I welcome?"

Their smiles are all the answer either needs for now.

We'll take each day as it comes.

They stop for pizza on the way back; lunch for Carlisle, but dinner for Edward. They eat together on the sofa, the open pizza box on the table beside them.

"Can I ask you something?" Edward's tone is careful, wary of the reaction he might evoke.

Carlisle chews and swallows, his bitten slice held aloft in his stilled hand.

"Okay."

"Okay. Well, when I was fifteen I kissed the gorgeous boy in Math club in a game of truth or dare. When he kissed me back my toes curled and I almost came in my pants. So, my question is: when did you know?"

"I... think I always knew. I didn't want to go after the girls like the other boys did, I just kept to myself."

"You didn't date in high school?"

"No. I was something of a late bloomer. My first kiss was in college."

Edward can sense the embarrassment and awkwardness emanating from his lover. Leaning in, he kisses his warm lips, a thumb caressing the tight line of his jaw.

"Thank you."

"For what?"

"For sharing."

He bites into his fresh, pepperoni-laden slice and smiles, watching Carlisle process what just happened before he too takes a bite of pizza.

Baby steps.

~o.O.o~

The clock moves ever forward, and Edward must head off to bed. He goes to clear away the empty pizza box and bottles, but Carlisle stops him.

"Let me do that."

Pulling Edward to him, he kisses him, a soft, lingering goodnight that betrays his longing to join him in that big bed and make him squirm and whimper until the sun goes down.

Edward draws in a sharp breath, his desires travelling down the same road. Somewhat unsteadily, he makes a suggestion.

"You should go out and explore a little; get your bearings around here if you plan on sticking around for a while. I don't want you to sleep every day away just because I have to. It wouldn't hurt for you to try and establish a regular sleeping pattern either; you'll feel energised. In fact, why don't you go out and enjoy the sun this afternoon and then come wake me in some interesting way before my alarm goes off..." His eyebrow arches.

He watches Carlisle smile, sees his face aglow at the thought of later before he sighs in defeat.

"Okay, you win. I don't want to deprive you of your sleep so off you go. I'll be fine. I'll keep busy to take my mind off you up there, all alone..."

Edward kisses him again and pulls away with a grin and a wink, delighted his plan seems to be working. It is a subtle ploy to draw Carlisle out, to show him how to be part of the world again.

Baby steps.

Heading for the stairs, he looks back at his man, raising a suggestive eyebrow.

"I'll see you tonight then?"

~o.O.o~

Carlisle doesn't go out immediately. Instead he cleans up, one ear on Edward, hearing him wash up and head to bed, the mattress creaking a touch as he wriggles to get comfortable; soon all is silence. Taking the keys from the door, he lets himself out into the afternoon warmth and stands in the street, wondering where he should go. He considers Monroe's and dismisses it for now; that will be his retreat when the weather is inclement. For now he walks toward the water, intent on strolling and people watching while keeping a safe distance.

He walks the path that he and Edward had followed before and finds himself looking out over the sparkling river once again, the breeze ruffling his hair. This time though he remembers Edward's story of his life and feels anew the pain that Edward had wept out onto his shoulder. Without conscious thought his feet turn and he takes a path back into the small town, and to a particular place.

He heads to Kate's.

~o.O.o~

Entering the bustling café, he almost turns to leave. The lunch rush is upon them and he can barely stand to be around so many people. He takes a deep breath to control the familiar rising panic, the urge to flee screaming through his brain. It's no use – scanning the space once more he feels the icy fear build and backs out of the door, sitting down at one of the two empty outdoor tables.

He tells himself he will try again when a few people leave. He will be fine once most of them have gone; he will be able to breathe again then. He sits in the sun, pretending to peruse the menu for half an hour, trying to ignore how his hands shake. As time passes people begin to leave, two at a time for the majority. A couple more go in, but not enough to refill the slowly emptying café. Carlisle grips the wooden chair for control; being alone in a crowded place presses every button he fears. His stressed brain congratulates him on staying in the seat for this long. Back in New York, he would have headed home and not tried again, but this place is a part of Edward and he will not run from that.

After an hour has passed, he forces himself to his feet and reaches for the door.

A couple of seats are still occupied, but otherwise the place is empty, dirty crocks and cutlery littering the small tables. A dark-haired waitress is weaving her way through with a large bowl that she is filling with plates and cups. She looks up and sees Carlisle.

"Sit anywhere you like, hon – I'll be round to wipe down and take your order in a minute."

She disappears through the doors to the kitchen, returning a few moments later with a fresh cloth and a spray. Carlisle chooses a window seat and waits for her to clear and clean down. Her efficiency calms him and he places his order without incident, sitting back and forcing his body to relax.

"Excuse me, but is Kate here?"

"Yes, she's in the office. Would you like me to call her for you?"

He smiles a little at her courtesy, and nods, noting her name from the badge on her uniform.

"Yes, thank you."

A minute or so later Kate appears, a small frown creasing her forehead as she scans the room, her eyes widening a fraction in surprise when she spots Carlisle. She whispers to the waitress and the girl nods, heading to fetch his coffee while Kate walks over to Carlisle. Her smile is guarded, and he realises that she doesn't trust him, perhaps feeling he is not right for her friend. She nods to the seat and he gestures for her to join him. A moment later the waitress, Tia, places his coffee on the table and he thanks her with a small nod.

"I didn't know you were coming to stay; I thought Edward would have mentioned it."

"He had no idea. I didn't know myself until I got on the plane. I missed him and he felt the same way."

"And he's happy you're here?"

Carlisle colours, just a little, feeling awkward having this discussion with a relative stranger.

"We both are."

She nods twice, a brief movement accompanied by an imperceptible tightening of the lips.

"Is this just a quick visit?"

"I – I have no immediate plans to leave. I can work here in Maine just as easily as New York."

Her gaze pins him in place and he feels the force of her will.

"Carlisle - let me be honest. I love Edward and I don't want to see him hurt. He's a grown man who can make his own decisions, but he's been through a lot."

"I know." Carlisle's voice is low.

She raises an eyebrow in surprise.

"He told you? About his family?"

"Yes." He strives to keep his fingers from gripping the table.

"Then you know how hard it is for him to trust anyone. I can't stand by and watch his heart get broken if there's anything I can do prevent it. You don't have to leave to do that you know; withholding any part of yourself could break him, reminding him of past pain." She straightens the cutlery and brushes away imaginary salt grains in a distracted fashion. "If there's one thing I know, it's that that boy needs honesty and trust in his life."

She looks at him then and he sees the love she holds for Edward shining in her eyes. He tries to explain.

"I would never-"

She lifts a hand, stopping him in mid-flow.

"Don't say that; don't promise what you can't know. Edward cares for you; I hear it in his voice. Can you prove yourself worthy of that? Because if you're not looking for commitment then please hurt him now before he gets too invested."

Carlisle is stunned. Her words hold no animosity, only love and concern for Edward, something they both share. His voice is broken, his throat dry.

"I have feelings for him too, Kate. He and I are very similar, both alone in our lives, just working and..." he laughs, the sound lacking any humour, "well, I would say sleeping, but that's not something I'm very good at when I'm back home."

His hands are tensing and relaxing, the interaction proving to be uncomfortable and stressful. Kate eyes him for a moment, taking in his obvious anxiety.

"How long?" She cocks her head and watches him. "How long did it take for you to be able to come in here and talk to me?"

He crumples, his hands shaking now.

"I tried... earlier... but it was too crowded. I couldn't do it on my own, without Edward. I don't go out a lot because crowds make me anxious."

"Airports must be hell for you."

He nods. "I try to take flights at unsociable hours. I can cope when it's quiet."

Kate is silent, her mind ticking, pieces beginning to slot into place. Hope flares in her mind.

"Yet you've made yourself take two unnecessary flights to come and see Edward. That shows an inner determination. I like that you're prepared to face your fears to be with him. It's a good start. This place is pretty quiet compared to New York – it might be good for you to spend some time here."

He nods, the ghost of a smile touching his lips.

"Edward said much the same thing."

She pushes the cup of coffee toward him, the spoon clinking in the saucer, before patting his hand in a reassuring gesture.

"I get the feeling that you two have a way to go yet and many more things to tell each other, but Rome wasn't built in a day. No doubt we'll talk again, Carlisle, if you're going to be sticking around. Coffee's on the house - drink up before it gets cold."

Grateful, he reaches for the cup and takes a sip. Kate stands and pushes the chair back into place, the bright sun adding warm highlights to her blonde hair as she heads back to the counter. Without turning around she calls back to him:

"By the way, it's decaf."

~o.O.o~

He feels overwhelmed. Dealing with people is still so foreign to him, so challenging. He wants to go back to the apartment, to hide away in safety and solitude, but instead forces himself to visit the local store for groceries. Edward was sure to need some extra food having had no warning of his arrival. He breathes deeply to keep calm and makes his way around the aisles picking up fresh steak, cheese and chicken, filling his basket with fresh vegetables and fruit. At the till he finds a small smile for the cashier and it is returned, the young woman having no idea of the determination and effort behind the simple gesture.

Walking back, bags in hand, he wallows in the warmth of the sun on his face. His skin has seen precious little sunlight in some time and he is aware that he is pale. Feeling strong after his afternoon of new experiences, he decides then and there to get a little sun each day in the hope that he will soon look less like a tourist and more like a local.

After all, I want to fit into Edward's world.

To feel part of something, to belong somewhere, is new and he thinks that he will like it. It is the second voice in his mind that pulls him up short.

But you can't hide out here forever - you have to go back to New York at some point.

Unable to deal with the accompanying wave of desolation that washes over him, he dismisses the thought, locking it away. However, he will soon discover that an unattended thought can grow like a weed and before long it will require his attention.

Back at the apartment, he unpacks the groceries and finds homes for everything in the refrigerator and cupboards. With an eye on the clock, he prepares a salad and switches on the oven for baked potatoes. He needs a filling evening meal after having only eaten pizza. Unsure of Edward's breakfast preferences, he also fixes a fruit salad.

The hands on the clock move at a glacial pace. After an hour of unsettled meandering, he makes his way upstairs to look in on Edward, unable to stay away a moment longer. Gazing at the slumbering vision in the bed, he shakes his head in wonder. Edward's back is to him and it is the work of a moment to kneel and lift the cover just enough to lean under it, placing warm kisses along his spine. Edward stirs a fraction, rolling over with a deep sigh, still sleeping blissfully.

Climbing onto the bed, each movement slow and deliberate, he peels down the covers just far enough to bare Edward's nipples to the air. Leaning in, he flattens his tongue across one pink nub, bathing it in warmth before starting to paint slow circles around the areola, slowly moving inward, his tongue dragging against the sensitive skin. When he reaches the nub he circles it with a flourish before flicking his tongue across the tip, watching Edward's face for signs of waking. Leaning over, he teases its partner, all the while circling the hardened nub with his fingers. Slow, deliberate circles lead to the reddening nub just begging for more direct stimulation. His lips fasten around the stiff peak and suck hard, his tongue fluttering around the base, teasing and tormenting the sensitive flesh.

Gentle moans alert him to Edward's near wakefulness. Continuing to suck those now ruby-red nipples, he slides his hand in between parted thighs to cup his warm sac, giving it a gentle squeeze. Rolling the tight globes between his fingers, he administers a gentle tug that draws forth a gasp. His lover is awake now, his mouth slack, chin jutting upward from his taut neck. To ensure he has his full attention, he releases the swollen nub only to scrape his teeth from base to tip. Edward's chest is flushed and heaving now, his breathing raspy and uneven. He massages the tortured nipple with thumb and forefinger, unwilling to break contact, while he sucks and laps at its twin, both now angry and suffused with blood.

Pushing aside the covers, Carlisle sees the state of Edward's arousal, his hard body quivering and straining towards ecstasy. In a conscious effort not to touch him any further, he concentrates solely on the over-sensitised nipples, testing the theory in his mind. It is clear his lover is on the precipice, with his eyes squeezed shut and his back arched toward his tormentor. Simultaneously he pinches both nubs just hard enough to send bolts of pleasure through Edward's body, hearing his impassioned, euphoric cries fly free, followed by the noisy inhalation of air into pained lungs.

It's time.

Nuzzling his nose against Edward's heated cheek, he whispers one word.

"Come."

He dips his head and captures the closest nipple between his teeth, biting quick and hard enough to cause pain. As Edward screams, Carlisle turns his attention to the other engorged nub and bites down. Edward's body spasms as though electrocuted, flailing and bucking beneath him, his body releasing his gift in strong, rhythmic pulses, showering them both.

Carlisle presses kisses to his neck, stroking his palm down the length of his shuddering body to calm the twitching aftershocks of pleasure. It is only when he lifts his head to kiss Edward that he sees the tears rolling down onto the pillow.

He feels sick to his stomach.

Reaching up to stroke his hair, he tries to gather together the right words to apologise. Before he can form a thought, he feels a hand on the back of his head pulling him down; he tastes tears when Edward's lips crash into his. When they break apart he looks into soft, adoring eyes and tries to voice his fears.

"I hurt you. I am so sorry – I only ever wanted to give you pleasure."

Edward's fingers cover his mouth, silencing him.

"Shh. Everything's good... amazing..." He smiles and Carlisle's stomach twists. "That was intense - I never knew it could feel like that. I think I blacked out for a second. I always knew they were sensitive, but..." The words tail off and he fists Carlisle's hair before kissing him again. When they resurface, Edward's words are breathless and faltering.

"However you knew I don't know, but thank you."

Carlisle's fears are rising from the dark depths and into the light of day. Looking into Edward's open, trusting gaze he realises he has relinquished all control.

He can't go back to how he was before, even if he wanted to.

He has fallen in love.

~o.O.o~