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Midnight

Summary:
She is his world. He is her world. She wants to become like him, to be with him forever. He wants to remove himself from her, to save her precious life. What happens when he fails in the only thing he has ever cared about?


Notes:
Spoilers: New Moon. Practically original fiction.


2. Chapter One

Rating 4.5/5   Word Count 5324   Review this Chapter

Chapter One

Justin returned to Caroline at dusk.

She had been waiting for hours, and he could hear her bones creak and her limbs wobble as she stood up too fast to lurch forward into him, exclaiming happily in her high-pitched teenager’s voice. He caught her effortlessly, smiling sadly when she couldn’t see, thinking of how he had almost lost her—and how he was sure to lose her.

Caroline didn’t notice anything different about Justin. He carried her inside effortlessly as usual and popped his favorite CD of the current decade into the player. Linkin Park. Caroline liked the loud beats and great lyrics. She began to follow him around excitedly, although that couldn’t have been very interesting.

Justin wasn’t doing anything. In fact, he was pacing, which he did whether or not he was troubled by a tangible problem, so it didn’t seem at all odd or out of place. He was thinking about his talk with Carlisle and the rest of the Cullens. Something was bothering him, he just couldn’t figure out what.

"What are we going to do tomorrow?" she burst out, unable to hold her words in any longer. She wasn’t soft-spoken in any sense of the word, but her voice was beautiful and soothing to Justin, so he didn’t mind in the least.

He turned to face her. "What do you mean ‘we’? You are going to school." He couldn’t help but chuckle at her shocked and horrified expression.

"School!" she exclaimed in disgust, making a face. Justin grinned wider at that. "I’ve never had to go to school before!" She pouted.

Justin fondled a lock of her hair aimlessly, as gentle with her as if she was made out of porcelain and glass as opposed to muscle and bone. "Yes, I know. But you want to stay here for an extended period of time, correct?"

Caroline made a face. She had never voiced her desires out loud, but Justin had known them as soon as he returned. She couldn’t deny the truth of his words. She loved Forks.

He continued with a soft smile. "Well, we shall, but only if you go to school. This town is too small for us to be total and complete recluses—there will be too much talk as it is, if you don’t go to school. Do you want to make this hard on us? So hard that we would be practically forced to leave?"

Justin’s voice was soft and tender, and there was no denying it. Caroline pouted and hung her head, nodding dejectedly.

The vampire sank to the floor in a graceful movement, crossing his legs. Gently he pulled the human into his lap, cradling her gently. She curled up against his body, as if he could keep her warm that way.

"It’s not as if you’ll never see me," he reminded her gently. "I’ll always be here. You can be my little sister. I’ll pick you up from school everyday, and I’ll pretend to be normal and everything." He chuckled at the thought; it was amazing what he would do for this porcelain child cradled in his arms.

Caroline’s pale blue eyes brightened at his words and she perked up visibly, mouth wide open, teeth showing. "Oh, really! Justin!" She squealed and hugged him tightly around his neck. He placed one hand on her back and held her close.

"You have to behave yourself, though," he said, his tone full of mock sternness. Luckily, as a vampire, Justin was an expert at controlling his laughter, which would ruin the desired effect.

Caroline made another face and stuck her tongue out at him in a childish, and adorable, gesture. "Yessir," she mocked, and he laughed, ruffling her hair affectionately.

"I’ll go shopping tonight, while you sleep, and I can get you registered for high school tomorrow morning. We’ll be up nice and early, so be sure to be in bed before ten o’ clock."

XXX

Everything happened just as Justin said they would—of course.

Caroline went to bed at nine-fifty-two, and he slipped out as soon as she was lost deep in her slumber. He took the truck to Port Angeles and bought everything she would need for school, including more appropriate clothes for the both of them. When he arrived back home he set up the house to be more habitable by human standards and waited until it was time to wake Caroline up to go to her new high school.

She was still groggy when he ushered her into the truck, and she refused to be strapped in. Instead she sat in the middle of the two seats, the one on the passenger side empty, almost on top of Justin as she rested her head on his shoulder and dozed all the way to Forks High School.

Once there he half-carried her inside. The paperwork was easy to handle. Justin played the role of young, rich recluse well, and Caroline seemed so sweet, innocent, and mentally handicapped that Justin knew she would have an easy time there.

Reluctantly they parted when it was time for school to begin. Caroline pouted, and Justin pretended not to care, but it bothered him more than it should have—to leave her behind.

She’s safer there, he reminded himself. Every second she is with me she is in danger. In a school full of humans, nothing can happen to her...

Still, he gnawed his lip in worry, at a loss for what to do without her by his side.

XXX

This was one part of Forks that Caroline immediately despised.

Detested. Loathed. Abhorred. No word for "hate" was strong enough.

It wasn’t the school itself that got on her nerves so completely. The high school was everything that one was to expect. Small, rural, clouded. None of that bothered her. Not even the shallow, typical, boring mortals—teenagers and adults alike—got on her nerves overly much.

Being apart from Justin, however, made her a little more than a little cranky.

Caroline Davis is not the perfect little ditzy angel she appears to be when around Justin. In fact, without him, she is the exact opposite. Cold, bitter, bitchy, snide; all perfect adjectives to describe her expression, her attitude, and her very aura.

Her teachers flinched away from her. Her classmates moved and avoided her, gossiping and muttering behind her back. She didn’t care. As far as she was concerned, they were all to blame for her misery, and they should all pay for her displeasure.

Caroline paid no attention in class, and already her teachers knew she was going to be a problem. Justin wouldn’t be happy about how difficult she was being; it called a lot of attention to them right off the bat. But, of course, he would be unable to resist her, and her being a horrid monster in public was better than having everyone guessing behind their backs. This way they had something to talk about and all attention was kept off of them as newcomers. Everyone goes home happy—especially Caroline, the escapist.

Lunchtime should have been the highlight of her day. Instead it just reminded Caroline that she still had two more hours of classes before she would see Justin again. Each minute felt like an eternity, and she was sorely tempted to skip. But there would be no point in that. Staying in school at least gave her something to do. She didn’t know how to walk home, and until Justin fetched her she was trapped away from him in any case. If she did as she was supposed to he would be proud of her, at least.

Caroline sat alone at a half-empty table, not even bothering to get herself something to drink, much less actual food. No one even thought about approaching her, although Angela Weber would have, if she didn’t figure Caroline needed alone time. Angela was the only one Caroline didn’t hate in the entire school. She just couldn’t make herself do it. Angela was a genuine person, kind and thoughtful, quiet and sincere. As well as shy, which was nice. Caroline might let her in...eventually.

But Angela is not the one who caught Caroline’s attention in the small, crowded lunch room. A shiver ran up her spine and she looked up from her sulking to see that Angela and her normal friends were not alone at their table.

Sitting with them were two vampires and an out-of-place human.

Once one has met a vampire and knows them for what they are, one can spot them a mile away from then on, even if their eyes are not the color you expect and have grown used to. One was male and sitting next to the human. The other was female, sitting across from them both. They were all looking at her.

Another shiver ran up her spine and Caroline flushed for the first time in a long time. Her heart raced, and she realized it was because she was only immune to Justin himself; vampires as a species affected her like any other weak mortal. The thought annoyed her, yet also somehow made her sad. She needed to become one of them—and soon.

What really caught her attention about the odd trio was the possible couple, sitting side-by-side. The human female in particular. She wasn’t your normal, average teenager. She was exceptional in a way that even Angela lacked. Which was odd, considering how plain she looked. Lank brown hair, ivory skin, full lips, brown eyes. And then Caroline realized what set her apart—aside from those she associated herself with.

Her eyes, though dark and brown, were deep. Deeper than any human eyes Caroline had ever seen before. Deeper than those of any adult in this rural town, deeper by far than those of any child.

This realization stunned her. She and stared, mouth agape, eyes wide and unblinking. The human girl met her gaze and remained frozen as well, for another reason entirely.

In the end Caroline ducked her head in embarrassment. For the rest of the lunch hour she didn’t look up from the faux-wood pattern printed on the cafeteria table tops.

When the bell finally rang it felt to Caroline like a glorious godsend, a gift from above, a holy and mighty reprieve. She dashed out of the canteen, as if afraid that the vampires and odd human would follow her, which they didn’t. Her next two classes were slightly more bearable, while she was slightly more on edge and less snippy, catching her teachers and peers off-guard.

Finally she was free. Immediately she ran to the parking lot. Once again she spotted the perfect vampires and the imperfect human girl, but this time she refused to acknowledge them. The task was not a difficult one, seeing as how Justin was pulling up even as she came to a stop. She squealed in delight and leapt into the truck, all the better to throw herself into his arms.

He hugged her briefly, laughing. "Have a good day at school?" he asked gently as he parked his car and took from her the slip she had forgotten all about, for which they had to get out of the truck once again to go back into the front office and turn it in.

Caroline made a face. "It only just returned to being livable," she mumbled.

Justin frowned as he entered the front office, face held up. Ms. Cope was unsettled by his expression, but charmed as she should be, regardless. He didn’t speak again until they were back in the Ford and she was resting her head on his granite shoulder.

Will she always be so miserable...because of me? Instead of just stealing her happiness...I made it impossible for it to be regained without my presence. What worse monster is there than the one that makes the victim need them to stay?

Caroline had no idea that Justin was thinking such thoughts; she was snuggling his arm, eyes closed and smile genuine. He began to drive away, and as he turned out he caught sight of Edward. The bronze-haired vampire was standing by his Volvo, frozen and staring, as if trying to communicate silently with Justin. He could read his thoughts, that much was clear.

The red-eyed monster ignored it and sped off to his and Caroline’s new home.

XXX

Edward felt a lot like Justin after their first encounter, and that thought he just intercepted did nothing to help his state of mind or calm his mood. If anything it made him sink back farther into his own brooding.

Bella didn’t fail to notice.

"What is it, Edward?" she demanded as he pulled into his usual parking space in front of the Swan residence. He looked to her and her chin was set in that stubborn way it gets when she won’t allow him to merely brush off his behavior.

"Nothing," he growled, using the tone he usually answered such determination with; the one that said that there was something wrong and he wasn’t going to budge on the subject of secrecy.

Bella scowled, the opposite of intimidating, but still royally angry, and got out of the car in a state. Edward sighed and followed her, keeping silent, back to his brooding.

Once inside the empty house both of them calmed down some. Bella wasn’t in the mood to do any homework, so instead she set about making spaghetti from scratch, to give her hands something to do. Edward sat in her father’s chair, watching her in silence, his thoughts his own.

Bella glanced back at Edward periodically, and in the end his silence was driving her mad. It didn’t help that this behavior all too closely resembled earlier events in the year she still couldn’t think back on comfortably. With an exaggerated sigh she finally got his attention, now feeling a bit anxious herself. Bella’s look was pointed, Edward’s blank. She sighed, setting down her mixing spoon, and walked over to sit at the table across from him. She took one of his hands, which he gave over to her without a fight, and held it with unnecessary gentleness in her own.

"Tell me what’s bothering you," she pleaded, softly, gently caressing his fingers and arm in that way that he likes.

Edward sighed, relaxing. "I’m just on edge, since there is a new vampire in the area."

Bella made a face. "You may be a better liar than I am, but I’m getting better at reading you. Edward, tell me the truth."

Edward looked up at her, and for a moment his eyes were so deep, so pained, that she almost gasped at his impossible, divine beauty. But then he looked down, breaking contact, studying her hands as they gently touched his. "Justin isn’t safe. He kills humans. He eats people."

For a moment Bella thought that Edward was merely repeating his earlier response, and she was about to complain—

"What if he kills her?"

—But then his impossibly soft whisper caught the words in her through. The pain, the agony, was not at the thought of the girl—Caroline—being slaughtered: it was the thought of Bella herself being killed in the same manner, but not by Justin, the predator; by Edward, her Justin-equivalent.

For a long while Bella didn’t speak. She just traced the perfect contours of Edward’s large hand. He had no physical imperfections, not even in his knuckles or life-lines—such an ironic thing to call them, especially since they were nearly invisible, faded and smoothed as his fingerprints had been.

"Edward," she finally spoke, and he looked up; this time she was the one avoiding his gaze. "You are stronger than that. I love you. And I trust you. If he can do it even as he feeds off humans, then you certainly can resist. Justin and Caroline are proof of how strong love can be—despite danger and despite fear, it lives on." That’s why I don’t fear him perhaps as I should. He’s too much like Edward to be associated with James.

Edward sighed and shook his head slowly, but didn’t argue it further.

Just then the sauce began to overboil and Bella gasped, scrambling to get to it and turn down the heat, hastily stirring the red concoction to keep it from burning and sticking to the bottom of the pot.

Edward couldn’t contain his laughter. Bella moved to shoot him a dirty look, but smiled instead, her face softening. She didn’t like seeing him so morbid—especially after the James-incident, and the Jasper-incident, and the leaving

Which she refused to think about.

After Charlie arrived home and the humans ate dinner with Edward at the table, the doorbell rang. Charlie answered the door and, sure enough, as was hinted by the beyond-perfect timing, there was Alice. She smiled sweetly at Bella’s father, who looked very pleased to see her. If he had been fond of her before, it was nothing compared to how much he loved her now.

Edward and Bella came into the front hall as Charlie and Alice chitchatted, wondering what she had come for. It was then that Alice addressed all three of them.

"If you don’t mind, Charlie, I was wondering if I could steal Edward and Bella for a bit?" She winked discreetly at the pair of them. "Carlisle and Esme are hosting a special dinner for an old family friend and would like them both to join in." Another wink. Edward smirked, Bella smiled. The irony was palpable; any "dinner" that the Cullens ever shared involved moving, bleeding prey, and Bella was never invited.

Charlie, of course, couldn’t say no. "Sure. There’s a basketball game on, in any case. Have fun."

Bella hugged her dad goodbye—a habit she had gotten into after so many times of almost losing him forever (mostly by dying herself) and upsetting him and knowing that she might very well never be able to contact him again after her planned change—and pulled on her jacket as Charlie got settled in for his after-dinner dose of television to help his digesting. Outside Carlisle’s Mercedes was parked, waiting for them, the car that Alice always drove when she needed one—and wasn’t in such a hurry that she had to steal one.

The three of them climbed in and Edward turned to Alice inquiringly. "What’s the occasion, really?"

She smirked impishly at him. "Justin is visiting us—with his little friend."

That caught Bella and Edward by surprise. "Really? Why?" Bella asked, shocked.

Alice shrugged—though it was obvious she knew something, if not everything. That was always a given with Alice. "It’s not like we’re having dinner or anything."

Edward rolled his eyes at Alice’s joke and they sat through the rest of the car ride in silence.

XXX

Caroline was confused. "Where are you taking me?"

Justin sighed. Perhaps he really should have told her the truth from the start. But he hadn’t known how to. Caroline didn’t understand the ways of his world, and he was afraid to teach her anything, dead-set against her becoming one of them and being trapped to an eternity of night. But he couldn’t avoid this, not when they were going straight into the den of the—not lion, but something equally imposing and strong, though not a threat to them. There really was no good comparison.

"Well, in order for us to have come live here, I had to ask the permission of the vampires that already live here—"

Caroline cut him off, looking less confused now. "I saw them. In school."

Justin looked surprised. "Really?"

Caroline nodded. "A boy with reddish-brown hair and a girl with black hair. There was also a human with them."

Justin smiled. "The boy was Edward, the girl Alice, and the human Bella."

"You’ve met them all before?"

"Yesterday."

A moment passed in silence as Caroline pondered this.

"Why didn’t you tell me?"

Justin sighed. He took a moment to turn into a dark patch of forest, and continued to ignore her question as he slowly made his way down the path leading to the Cullen residence. Finally, as they emerged on the other side, he noticed that she was still watching him, waiting, and wouldn’t let it go. He parked next to a black Mercedes, which was still warm, and turned to her.

"I don’t know," he whispered honestly. She seemed to sense that that was all and without another word opened her door and hopped out. Justin’s gaze fell down to the warmth and the indent that was the seat she had just occupied—thoughts of her death came to his mind, never to indent the seat ever again; thoughts of her change followed, never to warm anything ever again.

He shook such thoughts out of his head, aware of his slipping away from reality. He exited the truck swiftly, moving around to the other side in an instant. Caroline smiled up at him and took his hand like a young child might, although she was far from being a toddler. Yet young she still was, so innocent, so naive, so simple. All things Justin loved her for, and refused to allow her to lose.

This time he walked to the front door before it opened. Caroline didn’t seem to notice that he didn’t knock or ring, although she was probably just used to the powers of vampires. Carlisle welcomed them warmly and bid them enter.

Justin never dropped Caroline’s hand, although he felt more like a big brother than anything else, and knew that she wouldn’t rest until things became something more. For a solid minute Caroline was absorbed by the beauty of the room, the open whiteness of it. Then the silence was shattered with a soft giggle.

Justin looked up, as did Caroline. In a flash Alice traveled from the top of the stairs to the bottom and proceeded to approach the vampire and his ward at a more human pace. She was shorter than Caroline, but not by much, and in many ways much larger even than Justin.

"I didn’t notice when you were apart, but now I see that you two look a lot alike!" Alice giggled again.

Jasper was by her side in an eerie instant, his hand on her shoulder, though she didn’t need calming. Now that she understood Justin and his power, and had had time to adjust to it, not being able to determine his next move before he was already on his path didn’t bother her.

Edward and Bella stood up from their usual place before his grand piano and moved towards them, holding hands, trying not to crowd the guests. "They do look a lot alike," Edward mused in his soft, velvety voice.

Caroline looked down at herself, and then up at Justin. She smiled. For some reason, despite her intentions, she had never noticed the truth of Alice’s words before they were formed by another. They both wore plaid button-down shirts over plain white tees and jeans, though Justin was still barefoot and Caroline had on sturdy hiking boots worn from wear.

Justin studied them for a brief second, brow furrowing immediately. He didn’t like noticing, much less talking about, their similarities. They reminded him of how obsessed Caroline was, and even more than that, he didn’t want her to get anymore ideas in her head about them being "soul mates" or "beyond perfect" for one another. She may not be much like your average human, but she was just as love-obsessed as the next girl. And that scared Justin more than the thought of losing her.

Esme, who had shown up unnoticed, saw how uncomfortable Justin was becoming, so quickly she intervened. "Please. Come. We can all sit more comfortably in the kitchen."

Justin and Caroline, seeing nothing peculiar in Esme’s request, nodded graciously and followed buoyant Alice and calm Jasper into the kitchen. Edward and Bella fell back, giving Carlisle and Esme odd looks, even as they slowed for them.

"The kitchen?" Edward ask, his confusion evident.

"I thought there wasn’t anything to sit on in there..." Bella mused, frowning, trying to think of what she remembered about the room that she had been in only once, at which time she had been rather distracted.

Carlisle and Esme smiled without comment. The four of them then migrated into the kitchen, where Alice was animatedly chattering about the advantages of Forks for vampires. She was sitting, along with the others, at a long wooden table that had not been there before—or anywhere else in the house, as far as Bella could remember. Even Edward seemed surprised by the newest addition. Esme urged them to sit down even as Carlisle was taking his seat, and they numbly complied.

Caroline was listening intently to Alice while Justin’s gaze wandered, absorbing their somewhat new surroundings. He had been there before, and the fact that nothing had changed didn’t stop him from examining every last inch of the kitchen. After a while he leisurely returned his gaze to Carlisle and spoke in a soft voice that halted all other conversation. "Where are Emmett and Rosalie?"

His voice was more aloof and accented than it had been before. Caroline shivered at the change. Carlisle met Justin’s blank look with a disinterested one of his own. "Hunting," he answered simply.

Justin nodded slowly, leaning forward, his elbows supporting his torso, fingers interlocked. He started down at the middle of the table, halfway inbetween hisself and his host. "Why are we here?" he asked in a quiet tone.

No one spoke. Most of the rooms occupants didn’t even breathe. Bella watched Justin nervously, her gaze flickering back to Edward on occasion, and Caroline chewed on her lip as she stared at Justin, for the first time in her life—for whatever odd reason—feeling a bit of fear instead of blind trust and love for the vampire.

"Can’t one vampire simply invite another for a friendly chat?" Carlisle asked, his voice nonchalant. That didn’t fool anybody.

Justin looked up, and for a moment topaz met garnet, before Justin closed his eyes. "You don’t like the fact that I drink from people," he mused, his voice somewhat slurred.

Carlisle half-grimaced. "Not especially. But to each his own. Afterall, not many vampires choose to live our way."

Justin shook his head slowly. "You don’t like the fact that I am a red-eyed vampire living with a human," he clarified.

Esme pursed her lips at Carlisle’s side. "You don’t seem to be a threat to dear Caroline." She flashed a motherly smile at the girl, who flushed and looked away.

Justin didn’t even flinch. "You know better than that. You all do." His eyes shifted to Edward and their gazes locked. Each set of eyes narrowed infinitesimally. "I hunger for the blood of humans."

Bella shifted uncomfortably, but spoke up in spite of herself. "This is ridiculous. Edward, you know he can’t, he won’t hurt me. Justin, it’s obvious even to me that you are trying to provoke Edward, and Carlisle, and everyone else so that you will be killed. Stop trying to do that, especially with Caroline in the room!"

Justin’s eyes widened, and everyone froze as Caroline gasped and jumped up in alarm. She stared at her vampire protector in shock, her eyes wide and hurt. "What?" she half-shrieked.

In an instant Alice was by her side, and Bella followed shortly after. Justin tensed, wishing for this to be the end, for them to carry Caroline off and the others dispatch him—

But, of course, his hopes were wasted. Carlisle remained relaxed, Jasper laid-back, and Edward glaring but not poised to pounce.

"If you didn’t bring us here to kill me or take her"—Justin hissed, genuinely angry now—"why did you want me over?"

Carlisle sighed and leaned forward. Alice, as if sensing her father’s wish, sat back down next to Jasper, taking his hand in hers under the table, and at Edward’s silent request Bella abandoned her position as well, however reluctantly.

"Honestly...I’m worried, Justin," Carlisle admitted, and Esme took his hand on the tabletop. "Not just about Caroline. But also about your behavior. You said you thought we’d take Caroline from you...you knew we wouldn’t. But you were hoping we would. You want us to take her from you."

Justin snorted, crossing his arms, lip twitched up in a sneer that bared some of his teeth. "That’s ridiculous. I love Caroline." He spoke as if she wasn’t there, and she sank down into her seat, blushing with happiness.

Carlisle nodded. "Precisely. You love her and think that the best thing for her would be to let her go, to get her away from you."

"Which isn’t true!" Bella called out angrily, her voice borderline shrill. Everyone looked up, startled, and stared at her. She flushed but didn’t back down. "It’s ridiculous thinking that someone could ever be better off without the one they love most, no matter the danger."

It was obvious she wasn’t really talking to Justin, but she didn’t look at Edward, and Edward just dropped his head in shame, avoiding the gazes of everyone else. Esme looked back at Justin first to see that his posture mirrored Edward’s. She smiled, as did Carlisle.

Jasper spoke up for the first time in Justin’s presence. "How do you know about the Quileute werewolves?" he asked softly, bluntly.

Justin’s eyes widened and he met Jasper’s gaze. "What?" he whispered, though any denial he made at that point would be beyond pointless.

How can they stop me? Edward heard Justin think.

Jasper sighed and spoke again, still relaxed, still holding Alice’s hand. "Many Indian tribes in the United States have werewolf legends. How did you know of the Quileute, and more importantly, how did you know they actually have werewolves?"

Justin growled lightly, eyes shifting to Caroline for a brief moment; her eyes were wide, her face pale. She was silent and shocked and scared. Gently he reached out and took her small, fragile hand in his. She smiled, relaxing immediately.

With a guilty, internally disgusted expression on his face, Justin turned back to the others, who were waiting patiently. "The Volturi."

Everything fell into place at that, and the entire room grew still. Justin knew the Volturi—he had gone seeking humane vampires—he had found humane vampires that lived near werewolves—he knew a bit about the Cullens themselves, and about Bella.

Edward growled.

Bella swallowed and spoke up very quietly, "Did they deny your request for death?"

Justin shook his head. "I didn’t ask them to kill me. I had Caroline with me. I knew that she wouldn’t be safe anywhere near the Volturi, especially since she technically doesn’t exist and wouldn’t be missed. Besides, Volterra is in Italy, and Caroline would be a fish out of water in another country without me." Her hand was still resting in his.

The tenderness his words implied made the "boys" in the room uncomfortable.

"That’s why I sought you out," he finished, gaze intently away from the Cullen family and focused on Caroline’s hand in his.

Carlisle nodded, understanding. "I brought you here today to let you know that you are welcome to stay in our lands, and that we will not kill you, so don’t try to provoke us. We also advise you not to provoke the Quileute tribe—if you cause trouble with them you cause trouble with us, and Caroline might no longer be safe here in Forks. On a final note, it won’t do Caroline well to go to school here and stay as...anti-social as she has been. If the high schoolers of Forks are not to her liking, she is more than welcome to spend time with Bella and Alice."

Carlisle smiled politely. "That will be all."

XXX

Once Justin and Caroline had left, the vampire happier and madder, the girl excited and eager, Alice dragged Bella off to her room for a bit, Jasper disappearing to wherever it is Jasper disappears off to, and Edward pulled his father aside.

"Why didn’t you tell him to stop hunting humans like I asked you to?" Edward asked, eyes ablaze, but tone softened, light and respectful, too full of admiration and adoration to react as he wished to.

Carlisle sighed and patted Edward’s shoulder. "If I had done that, how would he be able to resist Caroline—or even Bella, for that matter?"

Edward frowned. "Is she his singer?"

Carlisle shook his head. "No. He resists her easily enough, because he feeds every three or four days."

Edward growled at the thought, but had no sufficient argument. Instead he nodded and walked away, going to drag Bella away from Alice to help calm himself down.

It was going to be an eventful next few weeks, Carlisle decided, before heading off to meet Esme in his office.