Four Related One-Shots
1 of 4: Meeting Mom ~ Edward remembered, too late, that his eyes were blood red these days. Her scream reminded him. 2 of 4: Family ~ His arms reached for her slim waist without any input from his brain. Her cool fingers were in his hair. This time it was her thought process that broke him out of it. He has to love me. He just HAS to! 3 of 4: A New Addition ~“I think you’ll be alright, though. You look pretty tough.” Edward said this flippantly, and then wondered at the wisdom in choosing that tone of voice. Through his pain, the huge, bedridden man SMILED at him. “Wait’ll I’m out of this bed, and I’ll show you tough.” 4 of 4: An Overdue Apology ~ "How did you know it was me?" Edward asked, opening the door with a smile. It was a familiar question, but he never got an answer. He never had, in all these years.
1. Meeting Mom
Rating 5/5 Word Count 1630 Review this Chapter
She was planting flowers in the back yard just after sundown. He’d hoped to sneak into the house and wait for Carlisle to find him in his room, but clearly that wasn’t going to happen.
He couldn’t help but watch her. She was even more beautiful than the sixteen-year-old image of her that Edward had seen so often in Carlisle’s mind. He grudgingly admitted to himself that he could understand the attraction.
Esme was humming to herself, and her hands were coated in dirt. Where her knees connected with the ground, her dress was also filthy and her curly hair, which she’d attempted to trap in a bun at the nape of her neck, was sticking out in odd directions.
Her thoughts seemed to fly away, also, as unruly as her curls. She thought mostly about someone named Richie, who was apparently dead. Her pain wasn’t evident in her demeanor, but it was clear to Edward that she was in mourning. Only after he’d concluded that did he recognize the dirge she was humming. Morbid.
Occasionally, Esme would look up at the window Edward knew belonged to Carlisle’s study. But Carlisle wasn’t in his study. Edward could hear his thoughts plainly from the kitchen window, where he was studying Esme. Carlisle was worrying that she would never recover from the loss of Richie enough to be able to love him. Esme was angry with Carlisle for not letting her die, but struggling not to show it because she was already coming to care for him. Carlisle, however, was fairly observant. Clearly he realized. And Edward was watching them both. What a convoluted family they would be. IF Carlisle could even accept him back.
Edward exhaled what he thought was a silent sigh. Esme stopped humming abruptly, her head snapping up in the direction of the tree in which he was perched. Their eyes met. He remembered, too late, that his eyes were blood red these days. Her scream reminded him. He dropped down from the tree and looked at the ground, already knowing that Carlisle would be at her side before he had a chance to look up. He realized, suddenly, that he didn’t want Carlisle to see him this way – his eyes proclaiming his sin to the one person he’d wanted least to disappoint. But it was far too late to make a get away, now.
He watched through Carlisle’s eyes as Esme stood and pointed fearfully at the bronze-haired boy who wouldn’t look up. He squeezed his eyes shut tightly, and didn’t breathe. Maybe it was too late. Obviously Carlisle had already moved on – Edward had known he would, known that a future with Esme was the only way Carlisle could be happy – but he’d hoped that there might be room for him, still. Not as it was before, of course. He knew it could never be that way again. But he’d hoped –
Carlisle recognized him instantly, which was to be expected. It wasn’t like any of them could ever forget. Edward could hear him trying to convince Esme to go inside, which she refused to do. That was also to be expected. He was more than a little astonished to discover that Esme thought of him as Carlisle’s son. One day he would find out exactly what Carlisle had told the woman. Now, however, was not the time for more jealousy. Jealousy was what had put him into this mess in the first place.
He listened closely to Carlisle’s thoughts, which were racing. They weren’t very flattering. He was concerned that Edward might be dangerous, mostly. He worried that Edward might be unstable enough to harm Esme. Even still, he seemed pleased to see him alive. Edward decided that was something. Better than wishing him dead, anyway. He wasn’t entirely sure he could have survived hearing that in Carlisle’s thoughts.
Carlisle walked toward him slowly, and thought his name. Edward tilted his face up, but kept his eyes stubbornly closed. He felt his face twist in pain as it occurred to Carlisle why he wouldn’t look at him. The disappointment was overwhelming. Even if he hadn’t already felt guilty for every life he’d taken in the last ten years, this would have been agonizing. As it was, the pain of it drove him to his knees. He hung his head again, watching through Carlisle’s eyes as the man who’d made him what he was – and tried to teach him to deny his nature for his own good – knelt in the grass in front of him. Oh, Edward.
When he didn’t respond to the mental sound of his name, Carlisle put a hand on Edward’s shoulder, worried. What if he’s been injured, or exposed his existence to humans? This is all my fault. Everything he’s done is my fault. If I’d never –“
Edward didn’t want to hear Carlisle regret ever changing him. That would be too much. “I’m not injured,” he whispered. “I’m –“ He gasped in a breath, dimly realizing that he didn’t have enough air to continue after failing to breathe for so long. “God, Carlisle, I’m sorry.” He meant to beg Carlisle to let him come home, but instead he found himself shaking and gasping in air as if he really needed it. The pity Carlisle felt then was even worse than the disappointment. If there was one thing Edward didn’t deserve, it was pity.
After a few moments, Carlisle’s hand squeezed and released his shoulder before grasping his chin and forcing his face up again. “Open your eyes,” Carlisle demanded. The gentleness of his tone only shamed Edward further. He obeyed.
To Carlisle’s credit, he didn’t gasp, or frown, or flinch. He kept his face relatively blank, which would have been enough for anyone else. Edward, however, heard Carlisle’s mind recoil from the sight and wrenched his chin out of his grip, eyes closing firmly. He vowed he wouldn’t open them again until they were pitch black, not even for an instant.
And then the story was pouring from him, between the dry, wracking sobs. How he’d only fed from the criminals – the violent. How he’d thought that protecting the innocent would justify his thirst. How monstrous he’d felt when he finally admitted that the nature of those he hunted had no bearing on his own nature at all. And the guilt and guilt and guilt.
When the words stopped, he realized that Carlisle’s breathing was as unsteady as his own. He’d made him cry, in the only way a vampire could. A moment of looking passed his own pain told him why. Carlisle felt responsible. HE felt guilty for all of Edward’s sins. He steadied himself, gritted his teeth and forced himself to open his eyes. This time, Carlisle was looking away.
“It isn’t your fault,” he whispered. “None of this. You saved my life – MY choices made me the monster. Carlisle?” He waited until the older man met his eyes again. “It isn’t your fault.” He waited, failing to breathe again, for some response to Carlisle, and then nearly collapsed when it came.
Welcome home, Edward. Thank God you’re alright. As he thought, his arms came up, and Edward fell toward him gratefully, trying not to sob again. Carlisle was so generous. So forgiving. He didn’t deserve to be spoken to at all, much less welcomed back into the house – the family, he realized.
He’d forgotten, for a few moments, about the woman who’d been watching from the flowerbed all this time, but as she walked toward them, Carlisle tensed and released him. When Carlisle stood, Edward didn’t. He remained on his knees before the petite, dirt-specked woman. “I’m sorry to have frightened you,” he whispered, his eyes turned down again. “Sorry for a lot of things –“
Esme’s mind was frighteningly blank, and for an instant, Edward worried that she might reject him. Certainly she’d be well within her rights as mistress of this house to turn a murderer out of the family forever.
But then she shushed him and lifted him easily by his arms, as if he were only a toddler. She placed him on his feet and dusted him off. “Inside with you, your clothes are as dirty as my gardening dress,” she scolded in a voice that held more fondness than really made sense. An image of a tiny child, blue in the face and still, passed through her mind, but it disappeared within moments. And then Edward understood. Richie hadn’t been a lover. He’d been a baby. HER baby.
He looked worriedly over at Carlisle. He had NO intention of being a surrogate child for the love of Carlisle’s life. But Carlisle’s face held nothing but amusement, and his thoughts made it painfully clear that he believed having a mother again would be good for Edward. He forced himself not to scowl. If being mothered was the worst punishment he had to face after all he had done, he supposed he could take it. He let himself be fussed over, and waited patiently as she chose clothes from Carlisle’s closet for him to wear after he showered. He kept his eyes on Carlisle, who only looked more amused as he thought about the fact that Edward’s room was just as he’d left it – clothes and all. He could wear his own things if he chose.
But he wouldn’t. He would wear what Esme gave him – because it would please her, because they were Carlisle’s clothes, and because if there was one thing that his mistakes had taught him it was that his way was not always the right way. Maybe it would be good for him to have a mother again, to guide him and keep him out of trouble. After all, whatever else he might be, he was only seventeen.