Title: Three Vampires and a Baby
Summary:Immortals and perpetual bachelors Emmett, Carlisle and Edward find themselves the guardians of a mischievous human girl after she's abandoned on their doorstep. With the unexpected help of one of Edward's classmates, they navigate the landscape of raising a child, learning lessons in love and parenthood along the way. AU.
AN: I swear this isn't a crackfic, despite the title. I just thought it was funny. It won't be much like any similarly named movies… except for the fact there's gonna be three dudes and a baby. Expect a short and silly vamp AU. I'm thinking around ten chapters give or take. Probably give, knowing my penchant for going on and on.
It was a dreary Monday when it happened.
Wasn't that how all stories about someone's life being thrown into turmoil began? If that was the case, I defied convention because it wasn't dreary at all the day my life was turned upside down. The sun was shining brightly and the birds were chirping like life was good. The weather was the nicest it had been in Seattle since spring decided to show its face.
Emmett and I were on our way back from hunting. There wasn't much else for a pair of vampires to do when the weather was nice. We couldn't go into the city with the sun high in the sky. Contrary to myths popularized by humans, sunshine isn't detrimental to us. It does, however, have the unfortunate side effect of making us conspicuous. Sparkling just isn't a common look unless you're in to drag queen circuit. Those who rule our world don't take too kindly to those of us who stand out in a crowd.
I've made my peace with everything that comes with being a vampire, but let it be known it's my brother's fault we're here. Emmett is my brother and I love him, but he's done some questionable things. One of which led straight down the path to immortality.
In 1930, at the height of prohibition, Emmett went out drinking with some of his buddies. He and his friends used to hang out behind the old town farmhouse and get smashed on nasty home brewed stuff they made. I supposed he had earned the right to let loose a little. He'd had huge amounts of responsibility heaped on his shoulders at an age even younger than I was at the time.
Our parents had been killed in an accident when he was fifteen. In the space of hours he went from not having a responsibility in the world, to the head of a household and the only parent to his frightened twelve-year-old brother.
We made it through five years with only one another to lean on. Emmett took control of our parents' estate and we got by well enough. Our father had been our town's only lawyer and he had left behind a generous insurance policy. It was enough that we could live comfortably until we'd both completed school and were able to stand on our own feet. I was finishing my last year of high school and Emmett was following in our father's footsteps, studying to be a lawyer. I wanted to be a doctor eventually.
Emmett was worried our inheritance wouldn't stretch far enough to put me through medical school but, as always, he made it work. He cut back on nonessentials, sacrificing so he could make me happy. To most people Emmett seemed selfish and boisterous but I knew better. He put my happiness first, always. There was no one I trusted more than my older brother.
Less than a month after I turned seventeen, Emmett told me he was going out drinking with his friends. It wasn't anything out of the ordinary, so I shrugged him off and buried my nose in my textbook. Sometimes he would ask me to join him, but he was aware I had a test the next day, so I knew that was off the table. Emmett was adamant that I do well in school.
I lived for the times my brother let me join him and his older, more experienced friends. My high school friends seemed like such children next to them. I understood, though, why he insisted I put school first. Education meant security; something we both desperately craved having come from a broken household.
I told him to have fun and that I'd see him in the morning.
I didn't see him the next morning.
If there was anything to know about my brother when he was drunk, it was that he became noisier and even more rowdy than usual. It wasn't uncommon for him to end up saying things he probably shouldn't have. That night, whatever nonsense he spouted alienated his friends. (Something crude about one of their girls, I'm betting, though he'll never admit it.) Whatever it was, it was offensive enough for them to ditch him out in the fields.
Drunk and abandoned, he stumbled into the woods and, to make a long story short, he was mauled by a bear. Sounds glamorous, doesn't it? He refuses to go into detail about what happened, but the pictures paint themselves.
He was found, hanging on to life by a thread, by a vampire named Carlisle. Compassionate to the core and unable to leave anyone to die, even my reckless brother, Carlisle took him under his wing, making Emmett like him.
The next morning, I was awakened by the town sheriff, who explained that my brother was missing. A large quantity of blood presumed to be his had been discovered by one of his friends in the early hours of the morning. He was assumed dead after an animal attack, though no one could be sure without his body.
At first I refused to believe he was gone, though deep down I knew he wouldn't abandon me. When he didn't return home for the rest of the week, reality hit home like a stone. I cried and raged for days. I had lost the final constant in my life. My parents had been dead for years. I had no other family. Emmett had been all that I had left. And suddenly he was gone too. I went on with my life with all the passion of a zombie.
Looking back, I was more relieved than upset when he strode back into my life two months later. As much as I wanted to tear into him for abandoning me, the relief was greater. I didn't care that he looked odd or that his eyes were a startling red. He was still Emmett.
The pained grimace he wore when his eyes landed on me hurt, but I could look past that. He'd come back and that was what mattered. I had every intention of insisting he take me with him this time. One minute I was appraising his strange new appearance and pondering how to phrase my demand without sounding childish, the next there was nothing but agonizing pain and consuming black fire.
I didn't know what had transpired until three days later. I awoke in my parents' basement with my brother hovering over me, telling me how sorry he was and that he knew I was thirsty but there was someone I had to meet first.
My throat burned like it had been rubbed raw with sandpaper. I wanted to ask what had happened to me but I couldn't push the words past the pain.
Emmett explained that he had hid me until my transformation was over because Carlisle wouldn't approve of what he had done. I didn't know who or what he was talking about, but I could hardly focus beyond the pain and barrage of voices shouting at me from every angle. Emmett showed me that my eyes were red now, too, explaining he had made me into a vampire, like him.
Carlisle was livid. I remember his anger very clearly. It was the first and only time I ever heard him raise his voice.
He berated Emmett for taking a life that wasn't necessary. He yelled that I could have died and, given Emmett's newborn state, it was a miracle I hadn't. He was furious Emmett would risk my life for his own selfish desire to keep his family. But more than anything, Carlisle was pissed that Emmett had taken away my choice in the matter.
Though those first few weeks of learning to overcome my thirst and handle the constant barrage of thoughts were some of the worst of my life, I have to admit that I wouldn't change a thing. I'd rather be a vampire with Emmett than alone as a human. It took years for me to come to terms with everything, but it was a breakthrough in forgiving Emmett. Deep down, I knew my brother had only done what he had because he couldn't abandon me.
As for that sunny spring day that turned my life upside down?
It had nothing to do with becoming a vampire. After decades as a vampire, I had come to accept my transformation as a natural progression in my life, akin to hitting puberty. It was a change, but one that was a necessary part of my identity.
The thing it took to upend my life was actually something much smaller.
It was a white bassinet.
"What the fuck is that?" Emmett asked, nudging the crib on our doorstep with his toe as if the innocent piece of furniture might contain a bomb.
I peered into it, more than a little curious why a bassinet was on our doorstep.
"Well, Emmett, it looks like a baby," I pointed out sarcastically, after closer inspection revealed there was indeed a baby bundled inside.
I was pointing out the obvious but with my brother sometimes obvious was the way to go. I was glad I could see into his mind. I wasn't sure I'd be able to make sense of him otherwise. I hardly remembered how I had lived with him for the seventeen years prior.
He shot me a look, his tone dripping sarcasm. "Thanks for the clarification, Edward. What the fuck is a baby doing on our doorstep?"
I plucked a crisp envelope bearing the name Cullen in neat writing from atop the sleeping baby.
That could be any one of the three of us, though technically Carlisle was the only one who had been born a Cullen. Emmett and I had adopted the name later out of loyalty to him.
I mirrored his tone. "Maybe this will tell us?"
I slit it open with a fingernail, scanning the loopy writing.
"Her mother is giving Carlisle custody of her," I explained with a frown. "It says she's unable to care for her and knew he would have the resources to do what's best for her. Carlisle was one of the doctors that delivered her."
I flipped through the paperwork remaining in the envelope. There were a handful of identifying documents like a birth certificate and some official-looking forms signing over legal custody. I bypassed the identification, skimming the legal forms.
I didn't know much about the legal system, but I was pretty sure that the person receiving custody had to be made aware of the fact they were the child's legal guardian to make it lawful. There was no way Carlisle would have agreed to raise a human child. The danger to her, being around the three of us, would be astronomical.
"Give me that," Emmett insisted, wanting to see the proof with his own eyes.
I handed over the envelope. My brother might look like a jock, but he held two law degrees, one of them from Stanford. If anyone could make sense of these papers, it would be him.
His mind revealed he thought this was a cruel joke I was playing on him and was amazed that I'd made the documentation look so real. I scoffed. That was what surprised him? Where did he think I got the baby? It wasn't like there were tons of parents out there willing to loan out their kids to vampires for the sake of a practical joke.
His lips flattened into a line as he examined the letter. Something in it must have convinced him it was real because he glanced at the sleeping baby warily. Her pink shirt rose and fell steadily as she slumbered.
"What's she thinking? I mean, is she scared? Her mom ditching her here and all?"
I peered into her little head, seeing nothing but the swirling colours of a mind at rest. She seemed perfectly content, innocent happiness a hazy emotional backdrop to her dreams.
I shrugged. "She's dreaming. I don't think she's realized her mother has abandoned her yet. She was probably asleep when she was left here."
"Well, fuck. What are we supposed to do now? What kind of shit mother abandons their kid on the doorstep of strangers, anyway?" He paused, glancing at the little sleeping face. "Damn, she's cute, though."
I shrugged; I was just as lost. "Letting Carlisle know is probably a good first step. It's his name that's on all the documents. He can probably trace the mother in his records and return her home. It's not like we can keep her here."
My watch indicated Carlisle would be home from his shift at the hospital in fifteen minutes. I hoped she stayed asleep until then. It was pretty apparent neither of us was equipped to deal with a baby.
A sly grin split Emmett's face as he peered at the sleeping baby.
"You don't think she's his, do you? I mean, does anyone know if vampires can procreate with humans? Has anyone tried?"
I rolled my eyes. "That's the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard. And trust me when I say you've said some incredibly ridiculous things."
Nonetheless, I couldn't help but search the tiny sleeping face for a resemblance.
"She looks nothing like him, anyway," I added, feeling stupid for having checked at all.
Emmett appraised the baby with a critical eye. "I suppose not. No one that blond has a baby with hair that dark. He'd tell us if he scored with a human, right?"
"The fact you're considering this is crazy."
Emmett grinned. "You never know. It's always the quiet ones who do the craziest shit. And if anyone could stand to be that close to a human, it'd be Carlisle."
The baby chose that moment to open her eyes.
Emmett, who'd been bent over the bassinet examining the baby for traces of Carlisle's features, jumped back as if he'd been electrocuted.
"Shit! She's awake!"
"Shh," I snapped, feeling the need to shield the little girl from my rowdy brother. His volume was about half a dozen decibels louder than necessary. "You're gonna make her cry."
Her eyes, huge on her tiny face, seemed to evaluate us. I could hardly blame her for being curious. Our skin was throwing dappled light in the afternoon sun. It had to be unlike anything she'd ever seen in her short life. I stood up straighter, inexplicably wanting to make a good impression.
"She looks fine," Emmett grumbled. "Look, she's kinda smiling. I'm the one who you have to worry about crying."
"Not possible," I countered. Our physical makeup made crying impossible.
Emmett sniffed. "Technicalities."
The little girl stared, her eyes intent on the two of us as we bickered. She wondered where her mommy was and why Emmett and I were here instead. Thank goodness she didn't cry. In fact, I got the distinct impression she liked us.
Maybe Emmett was right. If awakening to his face looming over her hadn't scared her, nothing would. We would be fine until Carlisle got here. I hoped.
Whatever higher power existed out there must have been punishing me for my optimism, because she chose that moment to decide she was tired of sitting around. She stretched her little arms up to us, glancing between my brother and me with hopeful eyes.
It didn't take a genius to figure out what that meant: she wanted one of us to pick her up.
Emmett and I exchanged horrified glances, hoping the other would know how to diffuse the situation. Holding a human baby screamed trouble.
The little girl whimpered and shook her arms, impatient for us to take action.
I sighed, sparing another glance at my brother's reticent form. His thoughts confirmed he had no intention of doing anything. She would be screaming bloody murder before he took initiative.
With a sigh, I gingerly lifted the little girl out of the bassinet, clutching her to my chest. Her arms and feet flailed, but at least she seemed a little happier being held. I gripped her around her midsection, terrified I would drop her if she kept squirming so much. I'd be damned if I would be responsible for injuring a baby.
At least she didn't smell edible, even this close up. The smaller they were, the less appetizing they seemed to be.
"Damn. Look at you, holding a baby," Emmett pretended to wipe away a tear. He was suddenly in a much more playful mood now that he was off the hook. "So precious."
I shot him a lethal stare. "Shut up."
Emmett snorted, repressing a chuckle. "Chill out. You're doing good. You might want to hold under her butt, though."
"If you know so much about taking care of kids, you do it," I snapped.
He held up his hands. "I'm just saying. I don't know shit about kids. Just, you always see moms hold them like this," he gestured, pretending to be a mother with a child propped on her hip.
I cautiously adjusted according to his instructions. He was right, it was a lot easier to support her this way. I didn't feel like she was going to squirm right onto the floor. She giggled, placing a hand on the side of my face.
"Aww, how cute. She doesn't seem to mind that you're cold." Emmett chuckled.
I glared at him, annoyed that he was taking so much enjoyment in my discomfort.
I bounced her tentatively, praying I wasn't hurting her, or worse, making her queasy. She squealed with happiness before promptly getting distracted with a handful of my hair.
She tugged with a lot more force than I would have expected from someone so small. I tried to disentangle her little fingers but she had the grip of a titan. Worried I might injure her, I gave up. She was so tiny, I didn't imagine it would take much to hurt her and I'd suffered through much worse.
Emmett smirked at my predicament, but wisely refrained commenting.
"Teddy!" she said, gleefully reaching for a second handful of hair.
"Did she call you Teddy?" Emmett asked, bewilderment brushing his features.
I shrugged. No one had ever called me Teddy in my life, so it seemed unlikely.
"She's probably missing her teddy bear." I nodded at the abandoned crib. "Is there one in there?"
Emmett dug through it but came up empty-handed. "Just some blankets."
In situations like this wasn't the mom supposed to leave behind a bag filled with provisions and the kid's favourite things? I supposed that was asking too much. Any mom who would leave their kid with strangers obviously didn't care enough to bother. I wondered if getting this little girl back to her parents was the smartest thing, after all.
"Emmy," the little girl said, stretching her tiny hand in Emmett's direction, a huge grin overtaking her face.
Emmett's eyes grew wide.
"Holy fuck. She called me Emmy. She was looking at me, I swear," he claimed, terror creeping into his tone. "She knows my name! How does she know my name?"
I shrugged, just as confused. I'd never been introduced to this kid. It wasn't like either of us spent much time around children. There was no reason why she should know Emmett's name, or mine, if that's what she was saying. Gibberish was the more likely option.
"It's probably nothing," I asserted. "It's just a coincidence she's babbling words that sound similar to our names."
She patted my cheek again, annoyed that Emmett and I were ignoring her. "Teddy," she repeated, reaching for my hair again. This time I had the foresight to stop her before she could grab ahold.
"She is calling you Teddy!" Emmett insisted. "I knew it! What the hell is going on? How does she know us if we've never met her before?"
"Get the papers," I pointed at them, carefully balancing the baby so I wouldn't hurt her, or god forbid, drop her. "What's her name? Is there a chance we've met her after all?"
Emmett scrambled for the documents, nearly scattering them in his haste.
"Brandon," he stated. "What the fuck kind of name is that for a girl? I think I would have remembered meeting a girl named Brandon. Hell, we should remember meeting her, period. We remember everything. And I'm telling you, I've never seen this kid before."
I glanced over his shoulder at the papers. "Her name is Mary Alice. Brandon is her surname."
Emmett looked sheepish. "Oh, right. Still, Mary Alice? It is the twenty-first century, right?"
He made a silly face at the baby, who giggled, enjoying that he was playing with her. "Sorry kid, but I don't know what your mommy and daddy were thinking naming you that."
The baby patted her own head. "Alice," she explained.
Emmett laughed, stooping so they were eye to eye. "Is that what you like to be called? Is your name Alice?"
She giggled, burying her face in my shoulder.
Emmett echoed her chuckle. "Oh, look at that, someone's shy. You're going to get on perfect with uncle Edward," he told her in what I supposed was his baby voice. Thank goodness she appeared not to mind because, if I were her, it would have creeped me the fuck out. "He's shy, too. Except we real men call it 'being a pussy.'"
I rolled my eyes. "Do you really think this is a conversation you should be having with a–" I peeked at her birth certificate, realizing I had no idea how old she was, "–22-month-old? You might want to dial back the language while you're at it. From what I hear, kids pick up that stuff fast. Her mom's gonna be pissed if we give her back and 'fuck' is the newest addition to her vocabulary."
Emmett snickered. "Relax, Teddy. Alice is a good girl. She would never rat out uncle Emmett."
"Emmy," Alice corrected, reaching a hand out to his face, her huge grey eyes luminous. Her motor skills weren't quite up to par. She nearly poked him in the eye.
"That's right," I muttered in agreement. "You put Emmy in his place."
Alice grinned a toothy little smile, her mind already wandering; she was growing bored with us and looking for another distraction.
She wanted her dolls. I hated to disappoint her, but we didn't have dolls for her to play with. Or anything else a little kid might consider fun. Unless a copy of The Brothers Grimm fairytales counted. I wasn't sure her parents would appreciate us reading her the gruesome precursors to Disney tales.
I froze upon realizing that wasn't the only thing going on in her little head. She was imagining playing in our living room. Our living room was represented perfectly down to the last carpet hair.
The furniture was positioned exactly as it had been for the last three years. The stain from the time Emmett had tracked mud onto the carpet near the French doors was there. Even my keys were hanging off the table in the way I'd left them earlier in the day. My UW keychain cast a rainbow on the ceiling. Just like it did in her head.
"How is it that, out of the two of us, I got the chick name?" Emmett wondered, annoyance crossing his features. "I mean, at least Teddy is a dude name, even if it does make it sound like you're five."
When I didn't comment, he glanced up at me, concern creasing his features. "What's wrong? You look like you've seen a ghost."
"She knows our living room."
Emmett frowned, glancing at Alice, who had become enamored with the colourful stitching on the hem of her shirt. "She knows our living room? What does that mean?"
"It means, if I didn't know better, I'd think she'd been inside our house. She knows where everything is. Even where I left my keys," I stressed.
"But that's impossible," Emmett countered. "It's locked and the alarm is enabled. There's no way anyone got inside. We'd be able to smell if someone had been inside, anyway."
I shrugged. "I don't know. It doesn't make sense. How does she know our names? Even if she had met us, she shouldn't remember. No 22-month-old remembers inconsequential things like that."
"Teddy? Emmy?" Alice bopped my arm with her little fist to gain my attention. "Hunry."
Emmett and I exchanged glances, each hoping the other had deciphered what she wanted.
Emmett shrugged, looking at me expectantly. "Can't you just read her mind?"
"Hunry," Alice repeated, growing impatient with our inaction.
I tried to look beyond the phrase to see her underlying intention, but all came up with was her frustration that we didn't understand.
Emmett sighed and shook his head. "Forget it, let's just go inside. I'm tired of standing out here. We can figure out how to keep her alive until Carlisle gets home in there."