Summary: Humanity is precious. Carlisle knows that better than anyone.
Notes: Just a quickie before the end! And I'm not entirely sure where Bella was born, but let's pretend.
“It’s a record of your human life. Just a sentimentality. Edward asked me to help you with it, and I gather it’s the least we can do for him in the face of what’s to come.”
Bella nodded and swallowed, shifting against the crimson velvet of her seat.
Bella stared at the tip of the pen where it hovered above the heavy parchment.
“Isabella Marie Swan.”
His hand swept across the page, each slight movement more graceful than anything she’d achieved in her short human life.
“Date of birth?”
She thought she saw a slight twist flash across his lips.
“Seattle, Washington…United States of America…Earth…”
Carlisle looked up from the page, a smile curving his perfect lips, his eyes laughing. He looked slightly haggard – as haggard as he could, at the very least. His eyes were nearly black. Darker than she’d ever seen them. He let the pen fall to the parchment with a neat clunk.
“What is your earliest memory?”
This question caught Bella off-guard. She bit her lip, gaze swinging up to the wood-paneled ceiling.
“I don’t…know exactly. I didn’t have much…concept of time when I was little. There was the day a boy at my preschool pulled the alarm as a prank and the fire trucks came. We all had to file out into the backyard and wait for ages. And I remember sitting in the garden with my mom. We wore sundresses and drank tea and watched the flowers sway in the breeze, the sun on our faces.”
Carlisle nodded, watching her intently. Bella didn’t notice he’d stopped writing.
“The first dream you remember?” His voice was low, almost husky. Bella wondered if his eyes had gone darker since she’d started speaking.
“Um.” She twisted her fingers in her lap. Glanced to the side, eyes sweeping over the spines of large, tightly-bound books.
“I remember…being underwater. I have dreams that I’ve confused with memories. I was pulled under the surf at the beach. Spun around underwater, afraid of the current and calmed in the silence. In another our apartment burned down. Though we didn’t have…an apartment. And in one I could have sworn actually happened but that no one else remembers, my mom and I were in a diner, and she tried to remove her straw wrapper by blowing on the open end. The wrapper…flew off and hit the man in the next booth in the back of the head.”
Bella realized she was smiling. She bit her lip again, waiting for Carlisle’s next question. When he didn’t speak, she glanced up to see him staring at her, eyes slightly glassy. Her gaze startled him out of his reverie.
“I do apologize.” He glanced down at the parchment, toying with the fountain pen.
“Favorite food?” Bella heard the hidden question, though she tried to push it away. Food you’ll miss the most?
“Is this…” her eyes raked the carpet, following the patterns. “Is this really necessary?”
Carlisle sighed softly, sweeping the pen away. She could feel him staring at her, black eyes boring into the crown of her head. Suddenly, soundlessly, he was before her, kneeling on the blood-red carpet in his dark dress pants, his cool hands reaching up for her flushed cheeks. She saw the fierce, dark eyes flash beneath a shock of blond hair as he rose up to slide their lips together, his mouth soft and demanding against hers, his tongue sweeping out to rub at her lower lip. Mind in frantic overdrive, she let her lips part, responding, struck by the thin, delicious tang of mint on his breath. She tangled a hand through his perfect blond hair and let out a small moan, pulling him closer.
He was halfway across the room before she could blink.
“I’m sorry. I’m so very sorry. That should not have gone on as long as I let it.”
She stared at his tense back, at the thin stripe of pale neck peeking up from the collar of his burgundy dress shirt, her hands gripping her skirt in tight fists. She felt lightheaded. She took a deep, shaky breath.
“What – what do you mean?” She wasn’t entirely sure how the question had made its way out.
“Human experience is precious, Bella.” He spoke into the corner. His arms were crossed over his chest. She thought she glimpsed a slight tremor in his closed fist. “Vampires – we feel, yes. Yes. But you have to be prepared to close the door on certain feelings forever. Surprise. The kiss of the sun on your bare skin. That certain edge that comes with knowing there’s an end to everything. If you’re ready for that, please feel free to join our family. If you’re ready for that,” he turned around to face her, his eyes guarded, his jaw set, his arms still firmly crossed against his chest, “Edward is waiting for you.”
“Right,” she didn't say it loud enough for human ears, but knew he heard her all the same and rose to shaky feet, smoothing her skirt against her thighs. She glanced over at him, hugging her middle, trying not to meet his piercing jet eyes. She gave a soft nod.
She turned on her heel, placing one foot carefully in front of the other on her way to the door. She clutched the cold handle. Took a breath. Turned back to see him standing alone in the corner, watching her carefully.
“Thank you.” She let her hand slip off the handle, her eyes level on his as she flipped the lock into place with a quiet click.
Neither of them moved for a long moment. And then they both did.