This was my entry for the Pick a Pic Challenge 2012. I was completely stunned that my entry was awarded 2nd Place Judges' Choice.

Mina Rivera created the beautiful banner that served as inspiration. And, literally, the story fell into my head as soon as I saw the banner. Link to the banner on my profile.

Thank you to my beta, Discordia81, who talked me down, once again. :D She submitted two one-shots that you should check out - one of them took two prizes!

Note: This is a slash story. Meaning men in love.


My watch confirmed what I already knew: Edward was late. It wasn't the first time he had kept me waiting, and I tried to shake off my irritation. Waiting was not something that came easily for me.

Edward and I had met through friends, and had been dating steadily for a couple of months. In the beginning, I was put off slightly by the ten years that separated us in age; I preferred to date men closer to my own age. The intense attraction I felt for the young man, however, quickly put my concerns to rest. He was fun and quirky, and incredibly intelligent with a lighthearted way of looking at the world. He made me feel good and I liked it.

He was also okay with keeping things between us light. He seemed a little surprised when I told him that I didn't believe in monogamous relationships, but it didn't put him off. I found myself liking him more and more as the weeks passed, and even canceled dates with the other man I was dating.

Now I fidgeted and paced while scanning the sidewalk for him. I knew he had probably lost track of time while working; only the alarms on his iPhone ensured that he made it anywhere on time. With a sigh, I turned toward the window of the camera shop behind me, letting my eyes move idly over the equipment as I waited.

"Carlisle!"

I looked around at the sound of my name, and immediately spotted Edward's tall figure on the sidewalk across the street. He was all graceful angles and careless beauty as he walked, drawing the admiring eyes of many that he passed. The breeze stirred his hair and blew his stylish tie back, and his smile was bright when he waved at me. I chuckled at his enthusiasm, and my annoyance at his tardiness faded.

My smile died when Edward stepped off the curb and into the street without checking the traffic. His happy expression turned to one of surprise when a chorus of car horns and squealing tires filled the air. I watched with my mouth open as the faces of the other pedestrians registered shock and apprehension. In the next second, Edward jerked himself out of the path of a Honda before he scrambled onto the sidewalk.

"Fucking hell." I realized that my heart was hammering in my chest. And seeing Edward safe changed my alarm to anger.

I watched as he apologized to the Honda's driver, while she shouted at him and more car horns added to the confusion. The Honda tore out of the intersection as the light changed, and Edward crossed the street. He jogged toward me, and his somber expression deepening when he saw my scowl.

"Edward, what the hell is wrong with you? Are you trying to get yourself killed?" The fire in my voice made his eyes fly wide.

"Of course not," he said immediately. "I was running late and trying to make up the time… I was distracted. I didn't want to keep you waiting again."

My anger deflated abruptly in the face of his obvious distress. I closed my eyes and rubbed a hand over my forehead to compose myself. At once, I felt his fingers curl around my elbow and breathed in the woody smell of his aftershave.

"Car," he murmured. "Hey… you okay?"

"Fuck, Edward, yes, I'm okay. Are you?" I opened my eyes to meet his, and clasped his hand in mine. "You were almost hit by a car, you dipshit."

Edward pursed his lips in an effort to keep a straight face that failed almost immediately when he chuckled. He smiled and cupped my cheek with his free hand. "I'm fine, babe. Don't underestimate the Masen reflexes – it's obvious to anyone with eyes that I'm one step away from supernatural."

"You really need to stop sniffing glue while you're working. It's making you batshit," I retorted, rolling my eyes when he laughed loudly. I wrapped my hand around his tie to pull him close, and shut him up with a slow, sweet kiss.

"Always the bossy lawyer," he said when I pulled back, a lovely flush warming his cheeks.

"Mmm, yes, the bossy lawyer who is late for cocktails with his sister and her new husband, thanks to you." I chuckled when he winced and smoothed the unruly hair back from his forehead with my hand. "We've got about five minutes before she starts leaving threatening messages in my voicemail. So let's get your supernatural ass in motion."

ooOOoo

My sister was too busy riding her post-honeymoon high to be irritated with us. We ordered drinks while she and her husband told us stories about Hawaii, where they had spent two weeks surfing. They were tanned and blond, and deeply relaxed as they joked and laughed with us. We had placed our dinner orders when Emmett started sharing the real honeymoon stories, making me choke on my drink and Rosalie cringe. Edward finally intervened by pulling my mischievous brother-in-law into a gaming discussion.

My sister smiled fondly as she watched their animated conversation. "Have I told you lately how glad I am that you found someone that Emmett enjoys hanging out with?" It was unusual that my sister approved wholeheartedly of a man I dated, and even more so that Emmett did.

"You may have mentioned it," I said wryly, sipping my wine. "And since I live to serve you and Emmett, you're very welcome."

Rosalie pouted prettily. "Now don't be like that, Car. It's not as if those other guys were a good fit for you. If they had been, I'd still be suffering through their company from time to time."

"Just because you haven't lately doesn't mean that you won't again," I replied, raising my eyebrows meaningfully.

My sister's lips tightened as she considered my words. Her voice was low when she spoke. "So you're still seeing Alistair?"

I nodded and frowned when her face grew troubled. "You know I don't do exclusive, Rose. It's just not my thing. Edward and I have been spending a lot of time together, but he knows how I feel."

She sighed quietly and pursed her lips. "I suppose I hoped that things would change… now that things are different for-"

I was quick to interrupt, though I kept my tone gentle. "Nothing's different, Rose. I'm very fond of Edward, don't get me wrong, but my relationship with him is just like any other that I've had."

Rosalie was quiet a long moment, staring at me with clear, blue eyes very like my own. We had always been close and brutally candid with one another. She didn't agree with my disdain for monogamy, and insisted that it was only a matter of time before I found the right man.

"It's just that… I think there's something different about Edward. Something different about you with Edward, really." There was a hint of apology in her smile, and in her shrug. "And… whatever your understanding with Edward is, I can see that he really likes you. I hope you know what you're doing, Car."

I considered her words as the server approached the table with our dinners. I watched blankly as the plates were served, until I felt a gentle pressure on my knee. Looking up, I met Edward's quizzical look and saw a trace of concern in his smile.

"Where's that head of yours gone?"

"Nowhere," I replied easily. I rubbed the hand he had placed on my knee with my own and gave him a reassuring smile. "Long day, good wine, and not enough food. I'll be fine once I have some of that porterhouse in my mouth."

ooOOoo

Rosalie rolled her eyes when my phone chimed during dinner. I smirked and pulled it out of my pocket to check the screen while Edward's warm hand rubbed the nape of my neck.

1 message, Alistair.

"Jesus, Car, can't you stop working for a couple of hours?"

"I have stopped working, in case you hadn't noticed, for several hours," I shot back, tossing the phone onto the table. "I've been sitting here, like a good boy, eating and drinking, and letting you give me shit. I only checked the number to be sure it wasn't someone at the office."

"Any time there's alcohol involved, the two of you completely revert," Emmett observed, his blue eyes gleaming with humor. "It's like you're twelve years old. It's a little creepy."

"It's a lot creepy," Edward added, leaning to pour wine into my glass.

"Oh for God's sake, shut up, the both of you," Rosalie replied and held her glass out to Edward. "Just because you're long lost soul brothers doesn't mean you get a free pass to mouth off."

I smiled as the good-natured bickering continued, and enjoyed the sounds of laughter and teasing. As the dinner wore on, I couldn't help noticing how often Edward's eyes flicked to my phone on the table, and the trace of tension in his jaw. His expression was calm when he looked at me, but there was an unfamiliar distance in his face.

He excused himself to smoke after we ordered dessert and coffees, and I took that opportunity to read Alistair's text.

I have CSO tickets for tomorrow – come with me?

I smiled at the thought of a night of music in the handsome Englishman's company. Without hesitating, I typed out a quick reply to accept. I had just put the phone down when Edward took his seat. I was struck again by the reserve in his eyes when he looked at me. My chance to ask him about it, however, was interrupted by the arrival of our coffees.

ooOOoo

"Car," he murmured, moaning when I licked his Adam's apple.

Edward was flushed and trembling as I pressed him against my bedroom wall. I kissed his neck some more, making him groan, and his hands were urgent as he peeled the shirt from my shoulders.

He had been quiet in the cab after asking me about Alistair's text. I was wondering if he'd want to spend the night when he reached across the seat to hold my hand. And when he leaned in to rest his head against my shoulder, I smiled, feeling lighter and strangely relieved.

He embraced me in the elevator, shoving his hands under my jacket and straddling my thigh to press against me urgently. He stayed close as we walked down the hall to my apartment, his hot mouth and hands making it difficult for me to open the apartment door. Once inside, we stumbled down the hall, pulling at each other's jackets and belts, until I trapped him against the wall in the bedroom and began to unravel his control.

Now, undressed at last, I pulled him toward the bed and helped him to sit, running a hand through his hair when he grasped my hips with both hands. Edward looked up at me, the earlier coolness in his face replaced with need. An odd feeling unfurled in my chest as I looked at him. Even in the dim light spilling in from the hallway, his eyes were shining with trust and excitement, and something more intense that I couldn't interpret.

I cupped his face in my hands as I bent to kiss him, watching his lids slide closed as our mouths moved together. He lay back, pulling me with him to settle between his legs. A delicious feeling shot through me when our cocks brushed together, making me gasp and arch into him.

Edward's eyes opened again and my dick twitched at the wanton expression on his face. "I need to feel you," he said, his voice rough with desire.

Moving quickly, I leaned over him to reach for the condoms and lube stashed in the nightstand and let out a groan when I looked back to see Edward stroking himself. His eyes burned as he watched me tear open the foil wrapper and roll the condom on. I slicked my fingers with lube and pumped myself with one wet hand until he whined hungrily.

"Always so impatient," I teased, chuckling when he bit his lip. "And so eager for me."

I worked him with my fingers until he was writhing. His hands rose above his head to fist the sheets, and he bucked hard when I bent to take him in my mouth. I took my time, sucking him hard and deep until he begged.

"Jesus," he ground out, gasping when I rolled his balls in my free hand. "Please, please, fuck me."

I sat back and pulled my fingers clear, shaking my head slowly when Edward's eyes widened and he let out a desperate, needy noise.

"Such a greedy thing." I moved to kneel between his legs, smiling softly when I saw that his hands were shaking as he reached for my waist.

He moaned long and low when I pushed my cock inside him, pressing forward slowly until our hips met. After a few moments, I rolled against him to push deeper, and our panting breaths filled the air.

"That's what you want," I crooned, falling forward on my forearms to run my tongue over his neck.

Edward's long hands were always in motion, moving over my ribs and shoulders, stroking my throat and chest, smoothing my damp skin with his palms. "God, yes."

Reaching down, I hooked one of his legs up, tucking his knee under my arm and moving even deeper. He cried out when I hit that perfect angle, and his eyes clenched closed. His head pressed back hard against the pillow when he arched up, his hands pulling at me roughly as his control drained away.

I felt his cock, thick and hard between us when I leaned forward on my elbow to murmur in his ear. "I want to see you touch that pretty dick. I want to see you come so hard, Ed."

He slid his hand between us and hissed as he began to pump himself. I watched him, a fire inside me coiling tightly as his beautiful face crumpled with lust. Edward was panting; his skin was damp with sweat and his muscles were tight as he rose up from the mattress to meet my thrusts.

"Need to come," he gasped. "I need – ah, fuck!"

I drove into him faster, feeling my control begin to slip and grunting when Edward's eyes flicked open to fix on mine. The naked need I saw in them shocked me and made my cock so hard it ached.

Edward's breaths were coming in quick, shallow gasps, almost too fast, and a deep red flush stained his neck and chest. He was shaking and mumbling incoherently as he pumped himself faster, becoming more worked up then I had ever seen him.

The sight of him so out of control was more than I could take. A familiar tingling started low in my groin and rushed upwards into my belly, making me grit my teeth as I struggled to hold out. I wanted Edward to come first, to feel him falling apart underneath me, and to watch his face as he soared.

I bent to press my mouth to his ear, murmuring roughly. "So hot and tight, baby. Feels so good, every fucking time."

I thrust hard, once, twice, three times, and Edward gave a choking cry. He threw his free arm over his eyes, hiding his face, and his cock swelled between us just before he convulsed. His ass pulsed around me, his warm come streaked our skins, and the room tilted around me as I came.

His breaths were loud and fast when I came back to myself, making me pull back to look at him. He was still hiding his eyes and trembling with tension. I pulled out of him gently to wrap the condom in a tissue before turning back to him.

"Shhhh, Ed," I soothed, rolling him onto his side and ignoring the come and lube that smeared between us. I pulled him close, so that his back was against my chest, and realized that I could feel his heart through his ribs, thumping hard and fast. "You have to calm down for me, baby."

Edward moaned, moving the arm away from his eyes to bury his face in the pillow. He was stiff in my arms as he worked to regain control, though his hands crept over mine at his waist. I kept up a steady flow of quiet words, pressing soft kisses on his shoulders and neck until his breathing evened out and he relaxed.

"Sorry," he mumbled tiredly. "I dunno what happened. It was... it felt like so much…."

"Let me get something to clean us up," I whispered, smiling when he yawned in reply.

Edward was nearly asleep when I came back with a warm washcloth, and hardly stirred as I wiped his skin, except to burrow further into the pillow. He was out when I slid back in beside him, and snored lightly as I combed my fingers through his hair and fell asleep.

ooOOoo

"Babe."

"Mmm."

"I have to go, babe. I just wanted to say goodnight."

I blinked up at Edward's shadow, sitting next to where I was sprawled on my stomach. The room was dark but the windows were grey with the dim light of early dawn.

"It's hardly nighttime anymore," I mumbled stupidly, rubbing a hand over my eyes. "Lay down for a while longer, Ed, and I'll give you a ride home."

"That's okay. I'll call a cab," he replied, reaching to run his hand over my hair. "I have a deadline for work, and I have to go in this weekend."

I frowned and squinted at him, irritated that the shadows obscured his face. "You sure? You know you can stay, Ed."

"Yeah, I know. Go back to sleep, Car. I'll talk to you soon." He bent to kiss my face very softly as I dropped back on to the pillow. I felt him run the tip of his nose along my cheek tenderly and the whisper of his breath over my skin. He lingered, rubbing my back and lulling me to sleep before he left.

ooOOoo

My date with Alistair the next evening was lovely. The dark haired Englishman was early to meet me for dinner, and we drank sake and flirted outrageously over our sushi. As I listened to his musical voice, I realized how long it had been since we had been out together. It seemed that Edward took up much more of my time and attention than I realized.

Alistair and I continued teasing each other subtly while we listened to Strauss and Rachmaninov. We also managed a brief but heated make out session in the restroom during intermission. Returning reluctantly to our seats for the second half of the program, we spared no time getting a cab back to his apartment after the performance. We were on our feet before the conductor took his bows.

It was late when we finally fell down to sleep with kiss-swollen lips and drowsy eyes. I sighed when Alistair's lips worked their way across my chest before he settled against me, threading his fingers in mine.

But sleep was a long time coming for me. I laid awake, thinking that what should have been beautiful day had seemed somehow less vivid, even incomplete, as if something important was missing. I frowned when I realized that Edward was the piece that had been missing, and I wondered what he was doing.

Edward hadn't answered the text messages I had sent. I knew he sometimes forgot to check his texts when he was working. But I was thrown off by his reaction to Alistair's text the night before, as well as his emotional outburst in bed. The vulnerability Edward had shown me had been new and I wondered where it came from. He was in my thoughts periodically throughout the day, and even during my date with Alistair.

It was past 3:00 a.m. when I rolled my eyes at myself and pulled the man at my side closer. Alistair burrowed against me with his reassuring warmth, and I willed myself to sleep.

ooOOoo

Sunday passed without word from Edward, then Monday and Tuesday. I called and sent a few texts, and even sent an email to his work account without luck.

I went to work on Wednesday morning unsure what to do. It was unlike Edward to be so unresponsive for such a long time, and I was concerned that he was ill. I also reluctantly admitted to myself that it was possible he had decided not to see me anymore. If that were the case, I hoped he would at least explain why.

My mood and thoughts were troubled as I walked out of the deli near my office carrying my lunch. I nearly dropped the bag in surprise when I looked up to find him standing on the sidewalk, fiddling with the strap of his messenger bag as he watched me.

"Edward!" I said, grinning when he walked toward me. My smile faded as I saw his wary expression. And I frowned when I realized that he looked absolutely dead on his feet.

"Hey," he said with a small smile when I was close enough. My stomach sank when he shoved his hands in his pockets instead of giving me a kiss hello.

"Hey." I stepped close, and gave him a gentle, one-armed hug with my free hand, pressing my lips to his cheek tenderly. He stood rigid for a second before I felt his warm, dry lips on my face.

"I was at a client meeting down the street. I saw you in the window when I was walking by."

"I'm glad you stopped. Where have you been, Ed? And why do you look like stir-fried shit?"

I stepped back and looked at him critically, pursing my lips at his pallor and the dark smudges under his eyes.

"Oh," he said, running his hands through the chaos of hair on his head and looking very young. "I was holed up all weekend working. Then a big round of changes came in... I've just been busy, I guess."

I didn't like the way his eyes kept darting away from mine, as if he felt uncomfortable meeting my gaze. "Okay. I do wish you had answered a couple of the messages I left for you. I was concerned that you were sick or something."

"You were?" Edward's voice was soft and doubtful, and I frowned at the remorse that flashed across his face. "I didn't think that – I just didn't think. I'm sorry, I should have replied."

"It's okay, Ed," I said gently, wanting to reassure him. Seeing him brought home just how accustomed I had become to spending time with him. I realized that I had missed him. "Can you stop for a little while? I was just going to eat my lunch and I've got enough for two if you'd like to share."

Edward's brows furrowed and he looked troubled for a moment before he gave me a tiny nod. "Sure, okay. That'd be nice."

ooOOoo

Instead of going up to my office, we sat in the atrium of my building, and let the sound of the fountain at its center disguise the awkward pauses in our conversation.

"Jesus," Edward murmured when I pulled the box out of the bag. I looked up to find him grinning and wide-eyed at the four plump hot dogs covered in toppings and condiments. He glanced at me, disbelief clear on his face. "Were you really going to eat all this by yourself, Car?"

I chuckled and put the box down between us on the bench before I pulled a hotdog out. "No, though I was tempted. I had planned to share with my assistant. Charlotte shares my affinity for all things hot dog.

"Don't worry, though," I said when Edward's brow wrinkled. "Charlotte's more than capable of getting her own lunch and she had no idea I was bringing something back. She won't know what she's missing."

The tension lessened after that, and we talked quietly as we ate. We stuck to lighter subjects like the project Edward had been slaving over and a difficult deposition I had endured earlier in the week.

I let my gaze linger on him he spoke: his smile, the line of his jaw, his large, grey-green eyes, and his pink lips as he sucked mustard from his finger. Warmth slowly settled over me as I watched him, filling me with comfort and deep affection. I realized that I was yearning for Edward, emotionally and physically, and that being near him made me happy in ways that were unfamiliar but wonderful.

"Hey," I said, interrupting Edward as was making a point about the client he was working with.

"Yeah?" he replied, tilting his head in confusion.

"You know it's my birthday Saturday; meet me for dinner."

"I don't know, Carlisle. I'm not sure that I can do that."

I swallowed hard as the wariness crept back into his face and body, darkening his expression and bowing his posture slightly.

"When we started dating you were up front with me about seeing other guys. And that's cool, but… I'm not sure I want to do that anymore."

"Not do what, Ed? See me anymore?"

He sighed and scrubbed a hand over his forehead. "That's the thing. I still want to see you, very much."

"Then come to dinner with me," I said, making eyes at him and pleading a little. "Rose and Emmett will be there, and some of my friends; it would be really nice to see you, too."

Edward nibbled at his lip for a moment, seeming to steel himself to ask another question. "Will Alistair be there?"

I blinked in surprise before shaking my head. "No. It's just going to be Rose and Emmett, and a few other friends. Emmett's sister, Alice, her husband Jay, and a couple of friends from work."

Edward's eyes cut away again, and his cheeks burned with spots of hectic color. He looked sheepish and miserable. "I just... I wanted to know what I'd be walking into if I went."

"Will you come?"

Edward looked at me for a long moment, his eyes bright with that intense expression I had seen the last time we had been together.

"Can I think about it?"

"Of course you can."

"Thanks." He stood and slung his bag over his shoulder, giving me a small smile. "And thanks for the lunch, too."

I sat for a while after Edward left, watching the fountain. Knowing that he was thinking of breaking it off with me was far more painful than I expected it to be. And I wondered what that meant.

ooOOoo

I spent the rest of the week ignoring what had happened during my lunch with Edward. Burying myself in paper at the office, I worked until my eyes crossed from fatigue before I went home to sleep for a few hours, too tired even to jerk off.

I avoided Rosalie's phone calls, but made sure to reply to her texts, assuring her that nothing was wrong and I was just working harder than usual.

I blew off every message and call that Alistair made to my phone.

And I tried not to think at all about the messages and calls that I didn't get from a tall young man whose eyes told me too much. I didn't message him either.

Saturday morning I woke to the sound of my phone chiming. I picked it up with a yawn and smiled when I saw Edward's name on the screen.

Are we casual or formal for dinner tonight?

ooOOoo

I checked my watch and cursed softly: Edward was late again. Pulling out my phone, I groaned to see two messages from Rose demanding to know where I was. I replied quickly to let her know that I would be there as soon as my date turned up. The sound of car horns and squealing tires caught my ears as I pocketed the phone, and I saw a knot of cars and pedestrians forming further up the block.

After another five minutes, I called Edward's number and was surprised when the call flipped to voicemail. Knowing that meant he was out of range or that his phone was turned off, I let myself wonder for the first time if he had changed his mind about coming.

"He'd text me," I muttered, pacing a few steps on the sidewalk before admitting to myself that I wasn't sure that he would. "Fucking hell, he'd better text me."

I looked up when I heard the wail of sirens at the far end of the street and noticed that traffic in both directions was at a standstill. When I saw the flashing red lights of not one but two ambulances moving slowly toward the crowd on the next block, I realized there had been some kind of accident.

The street was a busy one, heavily trafficked by cars and buses, bike couriers, and pedestrians, and collisions were not uncommon. Particularly when pedestrians were careless as they crossed. Or when they were distracted.

I was running before I even realized it, weaving around people as I sprinted up the sidewalk. The crowd thickened as I drew closer, forcing me off the sidewalk and into the street, where I ran alongside the idling cars.

A cold feeling filtered over me as I pushed my way into the crowd, absently murmuring apologies as I displaced people in my quest to get through. It seemed to take a very long time until I was at the front of the crowd and straining to see past the CPD officers on the scene.

My stomach plummeted when I saw a figure lying on the ground surrounded by EMTs. A bit further into the scene was another cluster of technicians and cops hovering near the front end of a compact car.

"Oh, Jesus."

As I pushed through the barricade, my mind began to absorb other details about the scene. I saw a twisted bicycle frame lying in front of the car and a huge dent in the car's front fender. I saw one of the EMTs carrying a red backboard. I noticed that the figure on the ground was lying very, very still on the pavement.

"Sir, you can't get through here. I'm gonna have to ask you to step back."

I looked into the weathered face of the patrol officer who was directing me back toward the sidewalk with his hands. He was all business with his deep voice and moustache, but his dark eyes were warm and kind.

"I think I know that man," a voice said, and I was startled to realize that it was mine. Abruptly, I realized that my shirt was drenched with sweat under my jacket and that my heart was hammering in my throat. "The man in the accident."

"You do? Which one?" the cop asked. He put one hand on my elbow and led me out of the crowd and into the scene.

I looked at him dumbly, unable to process what he had said. I opened my mouth to say something very stupid when a gap opened among the second group of EMTs and cops. In between their figures and close to the ground, I saw a familiar gleam of red.

"Fuck," I breathed and pointed with a shaky hand. "Him, the one by the car."

I pushed past the cop, who followed behind to clear my way, and let my numb legs carry me to stand beside the EMTs who were busy bracing the leg of a man propped against the car. A red-haired young man, with a bloodied nose who was looking up at me through glazed eyes.

"Edward!"

I squeezed past the EMTs and dropped to my knees, uncaring of the dirt and mess around us, of the bloodstains on his shirt and the ground. Edward was so pale that his lips had lost their color. There were scrapes on his face and hands, and one long leg was in a splint, but I was relieved to see him alert and talking.

"Oh, shit, Carlisle," he said hoarsely, swiping at his nose with a gauze pad. "I'm sorry about this."

"Why are you apologizing for bleeding?" I smoothed his sweaty hair back and took the gauze when I noticed his hands were shaking. "Fucking hell, Ed, what… are you okay?"

"My ankle is broken," he muttered, letting his head fall back against the car while I carefully wiped under his nose. "And I hit my head but it wasn't too bad. Nothing like the guy on the bike."

One of the EMTs crouched down on his other side. "Okay, Edward, we're going to get you on the gurney and take you to the hospital now. How're you doing, any dizziness or nausea?"

"My leg really fucking hurts," Edward replied, his voice gravelly with pain and stress.

The tech gave him a knowing look. "I know it does, but your BP is a little low right now so we can't give you anything for the pain. We're just a few blocks from the hospital; I need you to hold on until we get you there."

"I'll ride with you," I said when the tech moved to stand.

"Car, wait," Edward protested, grabbing my hand. I squeezed his damp fingers as he struggled to sound reassuring. "I don't want this to… don't let this ruin your night. It's your goddamned birthday."

"How hard did you hit your head? Do you really think I'm just going to leave you here and go have dinner?"

I sighed when Edward's eyes closed and his breath hitched. Leaning in to cup his face with my hands, I kept my voice low and comforting. "Ed, I can't just blow this off. I don't want to blow it off. You have no idea how it made me feel to think that was you over there, lying on the ground and waiting for a backboard, for Christ's sake. That could have been you, babe. And I don't mind telling you that I feel sick just knowing that.

"You're hurting and I'm here, where I want to be."

He nodded and pursed his lips, exhaling shakily when I bent to press my lips softly against his. His hands curled around my wrists and I kissed him some more, dropping my lips on his cheek, his jaw, and the corner of his eyebrow.

ooOOoo

The narcotics Edward was given in the ER made him drowsy. He dozed fitfully while we waited for the orthopedist to attend to his leg, and I squeezed his hand to reassure him whenever he floated back into consciousness.

He was under and mumbling when my phone chimed in my pocket. I glanced at him to be sure the noise hadn't disturbed him before I pulled it out of my pocket.

We're in the waiting room. - Rosalie

I waited for the orthopedist to show up before I got up to see my sister, kissing Edward's forehead before I ducked past the curtain.

"What the fuck happened?" Emmett exclaimed as soon as he saw me.

Worry marked his and Rosalie's faces as we sat down on the hard plastic chairs in a corner of the waiting area. I scrubbed my face with my hands, and felt my sister's warm hand on my shoulder.

"Edward was crossing the street on his way to meet me and a bicyclist hit him. The impact knocked them both into a moving car." I heard the fatigue in my voice and realized how exhausted I felt. "I was just down the street when it happened."

"Is he okay?" Rosalie said with a squeak, her eyes wide while I hastened to answer her.

"He's going to be fine. He has a broken ankle and he's banged up, but his head CT came back clear. They gave him some meds for the pain and they're casting his leg now. Once that's done, he's free to go."

The relief in my family's faces was plain and I felt a surge of gratitude for them. Rosalie hugged me tightly before sitting back to peer into my face.

"How are you doing, Car?"

"I'm okay," I replied, giving her a half-hearted smile. "I'm really sorry the whole night went to shit. Ed feels terrible about it, too."

"That's not what I meant." Rosalie shook her head at me critically. "It was just a dinner, Carlisle; we'll have it another time. I'm more interested in knowing if you're okay."

I blinked and furrowed my brows. "Why wouldn't I be okay? I'm not the one who got wiped out by two different modes of transportation in one day. I'm fine."

"You have no idea what your voice was like on the phone," Emmett said quietly. "When you called us from the ambulance… I've never heard you sound freaked out like that, Car. You sounded terrified. And you look like shit right now."

I was silent for a moment, unsure I could trust my voice to be steady. Emmett was right. Seeing Edward injured had shaken me badly. Watching him in pain and being unable to help him had doubled my anxiety.

"They couldn't give him anything because he was a shock risk," I said hollowly. "At some point, we hit a pothole and Ed sort of passed out from the pain. It was fucking awful."

My eyes stung and I closed them as I worked to get hold of myself. Rosalie's arms curled around me again, and she pressed her lips to my hair as she simply held and comforted me.

"I don't even know why I'm so upset," I murmured, pulling back with a sniff and running my hands through my hair. "Edward's fine. It could have been so much worse than a bum ankle. He could be in surgery right now for fuck's sake."

My sister surprised me by smiling before she laid one delicate hand on my cheek. "It hurts to see the ones we love in pain, Carlisle. That's why you're upset."

I stared at her blankly, stunned not only by her words but also by the quiet confidence in her eyes. I turned to Emmett next, trusting him to be the pragmatic one and sure he would scoff at his wife's words. Instead, I met a smile just like my sister's: steady and certain.

My voice was croaky as I began to speak. "I don't-"

"Yes, you do," Rosalie cut in, her smile growing as she shook her head. "You are in love him, Carlisle. And Edward is in love with you. I've seen it in his face for a little while now."

"Why didn't you say something? Why didn't he say something?" I whispered as I stared between them.

My sister shrugged and stroked my cheek again. "You weren't ready to hear it. I just hoped that you'd take your head out of your ass before it was too late."

ooOOoo

Edward's cast was nearly dry when I pulled aside the privacy curtain. He was sleeping lightly, his jacket draped over his chest and shoulders like a blanket. The suit was torn and stained with road grease and drops of blood. His trouser leg was cut to the knee for better access to his injured ankle, which was now covered with a bulky black cast. The scrapes on his face were bandaged, and the blood from his nose had been cleaned from his skin. Most of his color had returned, leaving his cheeks flushed, while his hair was matted with sweat and sticking up in every direction.

He was beautiful.

He stirred, his eyelids fluttering a moment before they opened to show me a pair of grey-green eyes filled with emotions I was finally beginning to understand.

"Hey," he said with a small smile.

"Hey," I replied and kissed him.


A/N

Thank you for reading.

And a huge thank you to the Pick a Pic organizers and judges for all their hard work and dedication. 3

I tend to become attached to the characters I write, and will probably come back to visit with these boys again. Edward in cast might be fun, hm? ;)

Notes:

CSO = Chicago Symphony Orchestra

CPD = Chicago Police Department

Head CT = CAT scan of the head and neck