Carlisle's/ Clara's/Bella's POV: An inspiring 13 yr old girl becomes Carlisle's newest patient and quickly wins his affections. When her mother suddenly dies, Carlisle instantly steps in to care for her and makes her one of his own.
7. Chapter 7: Carlisle's Decision
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“Carlisle won’t…. I don’t under-…why?” I stared incredulously into Edward’s caramel-colored eyes. My brain completely refused to process the information it had just received.
Carlisle had no intention of changing Sunny.
It was inconceivable. It went against all rational thought. How could he make such a decision? Why?
It wasn’t hard to see that Sunny was a part Edward’s family. She had found her way into Carlisle’s heart even before Beth died. The child was magnetic.
Not even Jasper was affected by her. The same Jasper, who had lunged at me at my eighteenth birthday party after I got a paper cut, could now freely hold Clara’s hand; even hold her in his arms.
The stern lecture Carlisle had given Jasper and Alice the night of the couple’s ill-conceived experiment with Jasper’s willpower in Clara’s hospital room, had caused Jasper to question himself for a while. Could he really refrain from killing her? I saw how he initially tried to keep his distance from her, “for her own good,” he insisted. Now, he spent hours alone in her room, watching over her at night without a trace of discomfort, a true victory.
Emmett too was completely enamored with the little girl. He carried her almost everywhere now that she was too weak and in too much pain to move on her own. The same Emmett who had been so against my presence initially that he had once agreed that killing me was better than having me expose his family’s identity, watched over Clara as if he were guarding Fort Knox.
Not one member of the family was negatively affected by the human child’s presence in any way. It was as if there were some mysterious force inside her, blocking every aggressive, negative instinct they, as vampires, possessed.
There had never been any question in my mind, or anyone else’s that Clara was to become like them someday. Clara was dying. The decision to make her a true Cullen in every way wouldn’t take anything away from her. She wouldn’t miss any of the life experiences that Edward feared I would when I was changed. Sunny wasn’t expected to live beyond the next few days, at most. Carlisle would be giving her a gift when he turned her, the gift of life. How could he not see that?
I noted Edward’s pain in the dim light streaming in from my bedroom window. I could clearly see the sadness reflected in his eyes as he shrugged at my question. Never in his entire existence had Edward conceived that he would ever disagree with a decision that Carlisle had made.
He sighed deeply before taking me in his arms and pulling me to his stone cold chest. I felt his lips brush against my hair and my heart skipped a beat. There was something in the way he held me; a fierce longing that had him almost clinging to me for support. I pulled away just enough to look up at his perfect features. His angelic face was a mask of pain and confusion. Edward loved Clara, too. I could see the depth of his suffering in the topaz pools of his eyes. I wanted nothing more in that moment than to reach inside his mind and yank out the thoughts that caused him so much anguish. “Carlisle believes that in letting Sunny die, he’s returning her to her mother.”
Guilt suddenly filled Edward’s features. I reached for him desperately, cupping his handsome face in my hands and locked my eyes with his. I might not have the ability to read minds but I instinctively knew what he was thinking. “You didn’t do this, Edward. You did nothing wrong, do you hear me? Nothing.” The adamant conviction in my words made my voice sound rough. “They were just nightmares. Telling Carlisle about them was the right thing to do. He had to know.”
He reached up to gently pry my hands from his face then quietly guided me over to the rocking chair across from my bed. He pulled me down onto his lap, holding me close to his chest again with a dejected sigh. “Carlisle thinks her dreams are proof that she misses her mother. What if he’s right?” His voice took on a note of desperation. “What if keeping her here is selfish? Do we have the right to do that to her, to take her from her mother a second time?”
I pulled back slightly, staring at him disbelievingly for a long moment, trying to comprehend how he could consider this. “But Clara had told Jasper that she didn’t want to die. She said she didn’t want to leave you and your family. I seriously doubt these dreams would change that. It’s ridiculous.”
His eyes suddenly burned with intensity. His expression was almost angry. “You wouldn’t say that if you had seen what I’ve seen in her thoughts, in her nightmares. And they are nightmares, Bella, horrific, lonely images.” Edward turned away from me as his words trailed off. He reached back, absently running one hand down the length of my long, brown hair, still hiding his face from me.
After a long, strained silence, I finally had had enough and guided his face back to mine with one hand on his cold, chiseled cheek. “Have any of you even bothered to talk to her about this recently? Analyzing dreams is a poor substitute for the truth.”
The ghost of a smile briefly touched his flawless mouth. It wasn’t my favorite crooked smile but a hard, cold smirk that slashed across his face. “And how do you propose we bring up the subject? ‘Oh, by the way, Clara, have you given much thought to your death and the afterlife? We could provide you with another option.’” His voice was bitter, filled with sarcasm. His features hardened. ‘”How’d you like to become a vampire? You wouldn’t have to give up much, just your immortal soul.’”
I glared into his eyes. I hated the bitterness that creased his smooth brow. “I meant asking her what she thinks the dreams mean. Asking about the afterlife isn’t such a bad idea either,” I added as an afterthought. “Judging from the comments she’s made to Jasper, she’s obviously given it some thought.”
It was his turn to stare incredulously. “Be serious, Bella. That isn’t something you just drop on someone, especially not someone so young. She’s just a child.”
My frown deepened. “I am serious. Clara is a lot more insightful than you’re giving her credit for. You’ve said so yourself that she’s had moments where it seemed like she knew what you all truly are. She had pretty much figured you, Alice, and Jasper out on her own anyway. That conversation really was only confirming her suspicions.”
His frown turned disapproving. “Telling her the truth now could prove to be too much of a shock. Another risk we can’t afford to take.” His face crumbled again. “Our time with her is fading too quickly as it is.”
I let out a long, exasperated sigh, flicking my attention to stare out the window over his shoulder. I could already guess at the answer before asking the question. “And Alice has seen Carlisle’s decision? She doesn’t see things changing?” Edward merely shook his head.
As if on cue, I felt his cell phone vibrate in his pocket. He gently leaned me away from his body to grab it. When he guided me back against his chest, his arms were like solid steal, tense. He didn’t look at the caller ID before flipping it open. Edward’s eyes went flat, his face crumbling in pain as he listened to the voice on the other end of the line.
It was time.
“We’ll be there soon, Alice.” He didn’t have to say anything else as we both stood. He silently pulled me behind him as we left my house, still not speaking as we jumped in his car and sped toward his family’s home.
He pulled into the enormous garage, parking between Emmett’s gigantic grey Jeep and Alice’s yellow Porsche and abruptly cut the engine. He made no move to exit the car. I reached out, placing my hand over his and shifted to be as close to him as I could in the confining space of the front seat.
I racked my brain for the right thing to say. Situations like this had never been my strong point. I was too much like Charlie in that way, emotionally inept. Before I could come up with some lame, inadequate comment, Edward spoke. “We don’t have much time. We should go in.” He was suddenly at my door, holding it open for me as I awkwardly stepped out.
He reached for my hand, holding it firmly in his cold grasp, clinging to me as we stepped into the main house. It was completely silent. There was no music floating down into the living room from upstairs. There was no laughter, no voices ringing out from some distant corner of the home. The silence was deafening.
I climbed the stairs mechanically. For the first time since I had met him, I was barely aware of Edward’s presence at my side. When we got to the door at the very end of the hall, I stopped, halting the both of us.
Edward finally turned toward me. I couldn’t imagine the look he saw on my face. My entire body felt like it had gone numb. “This is really happening. This is really going to be the last time we go in there, isn’t it?”
He yanked me against his chest, cradling my face with his hand as I cried silently. I didn’t immediately notice the stuttered pattern to Edward’s breathing through my own sobs. Though he wasn’t physically capable of producing tears, I knew in that moment that Edward was crying as well. We stood clinging to each other in grief for what seemed like hours.
I was unaware that the door had opened in front of us until Edward pulled away from me gently, allowing Esme to take me in her arms. I clung to her fiercely until my tears stopped. When I pulled back to look into Esme’s eyes, the amount of pain I saw there was palpable. “Esme, I’m so sorry.” I could barely force the words out over the lump in my throat.
“Thank you, sweetheart.” Her eyes didn’t quite meet mine.
Edward reached out, pulling me back to his side as we faced into Sunny’s bedroom. Carlisle was seated on the edge of Sunny’s bed, Esme now sitting on his other side. In his arms was, what at first, looked to be just a jumbled pile of sheets. It took a moment for me to find the small, frail-looking child buried inside. Sunny’s gaunt face peeked out around the bundle of blankets, her bright emerald eyes wide as she watched everyone around her. A heart monitor beeped steadily at Sunny’s bedside, the cords from the machine trailed out from under the covers. A long, clear tube stretched under her nose, taped into place, supplying her oxygen so she could breathe a bit easier. She clearly was gasping for every breath she took.
Every member of Edward’s family was gathered in Sunny’s large bedroom, each visibly processing their grief in their own way. Emmett and Rosalie stood the closest to Sunny’s bed. Emmett’s eyes locked on the bundle in Carlisle’s arms, his characteristic smile nowhere to be seen. It was almost as if he were still standing guard, watching every move Clara made, scrutinizing every whimper, every rasping breath she took.
His arm was firmly locked around Rosalie’s slim waist as her eyes too were trained on the dying girl. It made me wonder what they were waiting for. That was the only way to describe their posture, ready and waiting.
Jasper stood no more than a step behind Emmett’s right shoulder, his eyes, too were locked on Clara. Jasper’s face was anxious, his expression filled with intense concentration. It took a moment for me to realize that he was concentrating on controlling Sunny’s fear. That was what was missing from her expression. Her eyes were wide and staring, wondering, but there was an absence of the fear that I had expected to see in her eyes.
Alice stood to Jasper’s right, her eyes closed, her face smooth. Her attention was clearly somewhere else. Knowing Alice, she was looking for a change in the situation, a change in Carlisle’s resolve. I felt an almost physical click in my brain at that moment. It finally hit me what Emmett and Rosalie were waiting for. Everyone was convinced that Carlisle would, somehow, find some reason to change his mind. They were all anticipating Sunny’s eternal induction into their family.
My gaze now flew to lock on Edward and I felt his arm tense at my side. Before I could ask, he stepped forward, the pain in his features deepening. “She has something to say,” he mumbled. Alice’s eyes flew open and focused on Clara.
Carlisle’s attention had never left Clara’s face, not even when Edward and I arrived. He stared at her now, his normally calm and friendly expression twisted by concern and despair. He clearly hesitated before adjusting Clara’s position in his arms so that she was now sitting up, facing out for us all to see. It look deliberate effort for Clara to open her mouth, another few seconds for her to build up enough air to speak. Her wide eyes first fell to Edward. He pulled me forward, towing me with him to approach Clara. He kneeled in front of her and their eyes locked. “You don’t have to do this, Clara. I already know.” He tried to smile at her but it didn’t reach his eyes.
Clara ignored him, taking another deep breath before speaking. “I have to say this.” Her voice was thin, wispy. She took another gulp of air. “I think I knew about your ability before you had Esme tell me. I think I knew when I met you.” Edward waited patiently as she caught her breath. “It doesn’t matter to me what you can do or what you are.” That last part clearly caught Edward off guard. She continued when she could as if she hadn’t noticed a change in his expression. “I wish I had more time to know you.”
Edward was frozen in place, his eyes locked on Sunny’s, still scrutinizing her face. It startled me when he abruptly got to his feet. He bent down to kiss Clara lightly on the forehead then turned and walked back to where he and I had been standing before.
I was about to turn and follow until Carlisle’s hand rested lightly against my upper arm, grabbing my attention. I turned back and Sunny smiled at me weakly. “Don’t let him think about me. I don’t want him to be in pain.” Tears were filling my eyes again as I tried to smile back at her. When the attempt failed, I only nodded and wandered back over to stand at Edward’s side, grabbing his hand again and holding it against my heart.
Rosalie stepped forward next. She too knelt in front of Sunny. Her beautiful gold eyes were trained on the child’s face, a soft smile on her lips. “I wish you wouldn’t strain yourself like this, Clara. You need your strength.” I had never heard such tenderness in Rose’s voice before. Hearing it now made my heart contract. I felt Edward’s fingers tighten against mine.
“I remember you being there with me, Rose.” Clara took another shuttering breath. “You were at the hospital and you rubbed my back and were humming. You did that a lot.”
Rose’s smile crumbled into sadness. She reached up to lightly rest her cold, hard hand against Sunny’s fevered cheek. “And I’ll be here still, as long as you’ll have me.”
A loud, racking sob filled the air then. It was only when all eyes fell on me that I realized it had come from my lips. I felt a deep blush fill my cheeks and clamped my hand over my mouth. Edward pulled me tighter against his side.
Clara smiled at me before gesturing to Emmett. There was movement under the blankets that surrounded Sunny’s body before her frail arms suddenly appeared. She reached out as high as she could manage, begging with her eyes for Emmett to hold her. He grabbed her gently without hesitation, cradling her in his massive arms. He adjusted all the cords and wires protruding from the different machines attached to Clara to keep her comfortable as her head lulled tiredly against one of his broad shoulders. “This is one of my favorite spots.” Her eyes flicked back to Carlisle and she smiled at him from her high perch. Carlisle and Emmett both chuckled at her, some of their usual humor returning as they saw Sunny’s contentment.
Emmett turned with Sunny to face Jasper and Alice, reluctantly passing his bundle to Jasper when Clara reached out to him. Jasper held Clara close to himself, hugging her without an ounce of hesitation or discomfort. For one brief moment, the two of them suddenly beamed at each other, two perfect, genuine smiles reflecting off one another. Sunny’s wavered first. “I always knew you wouldn’t hurt me.” Jasper’s expression mirrored everyone else’s. Dumbstruck. Clara ignored it. “You liked me when you met me and I liked you.” She tried to shrug then took a moment to breathe. “You made me feel calm and happy. You still do.” Her face was completely serious, intense. “You’ll take care of everyone, right? Don’t let them get too sad, ok?” Her eyes were wide again, earnest.
Jasper’s face was suddenly solemn. He seemed to shake off his shock from her sudden revelation. “Of course, Clara. I don’t want you worrying about that now.”
She nodded before turning her attention to Alice. Alice reached out, running one of her small hands against Sunny’s forehead. “Don’t you worry about us. Everything works out in the end.” She tapped her temple meaningfully with a halfhearted smile.
Clara tried to smile in return. “I know you’ll all be fine. I just wanted to get this stuff off my chest.”
Alice brought Sunny back to Carlisle and Esme, placing her in Esme’s arms before returning to Jasper’s side. She latched herself onto his right arm before settling back into her meditative state, still searching for some sign that Sunny wouldn’t be leaving us this way.
The incessant beeping of the heart monitor started to slow. Though I knew that I was the only person in the room who needed to, every pair of eyes in the room, minus Alice and Sunny’s, locked on its progress. Sunny’s eyes had closed almost immediately after Alice handed her to Esme. Her final good-byes had all but completely drained her. She lay resting now, her head lying against Esme’s elbow, her breathing labored and irregular.
Several minutes passed before a low moan came from the bundle Esme held. Sunny’s eyes opened again. Tears made her eyes shine like emerald green pools before they spilled down her face. Carlisle reached out instantly, a look of panic crossing his face. “Are you in pain, little one?”
She shook her head, her eyes never leaving Carlisle. Her voice was now barely audible, hardly a whimper. “No, I…” The dam broke at that moment. All of the fear, anxiety, and sorrow she had obviously been trying to hold back, that Jasper had been so valiantly trying to help her resist, came rushing out of her. Her face crumbled as she bawled, her entire body overtaken by racking sobs. My attention turned to Jasper for the briefest moment. He looked like he had just failed at a monumental task. He looked defeated.
Carlisle looked shocked for a split second before composing his features. "You have nothing to fear, Clara. You'll be with your mother soon. You'll never lose her again."
“I don’t wanna leave. I don’t wanna die.” Clara whimpered the same mantra repeatedly, wheezing now as she fought to control her emotions. I saw her small hands reach out to grasp Esme’s shirt. “I wanna stay with you.”
Everything seemed to happen all at once. First, Alice’s eyes snapped open. Her face was euphoric. Relief seemed to fill every part of her as she cried out, “Finally!"
Sunny was somehow in Carlisle’s arms when I turned my attention back to her. His eyes held a strange expression. It was sorrow, relief, determination, and grief all rolled together.
Emmett and Rosalie, Jasper and Alice exchanged hugs and shining grins before I was suddenly out in the hallway, flying down the stairs and in Edward’s Volvo. The garage door was closing as Sunny started to scream.
- Shannon R
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- 23 Jan 09
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