Epilogue: Father

Northern Wisconsin
Late November, 1918

The sun streamed down through the trees, casting a dappled pattern on the forest floor. Each beam glinted off Edward’s skin as he dashed ahead of Carlisle, sending tiny rainbows skittering across the snow.

They were running. Carlisle couldn’t remember running for fun; he did it only when he needed to hunt, and he kept that practice brief; a perfunctory act required by his nature, but certainly nothing in which to revel.

But he and Edward had fed and were satiated, and now they were running.

For fun.

Edward was wonderful. Carlisle could never have conceived that he would enjoy having a companion; he had been so desperate to take himself out of his own melancholy that he had barely paused to consider what having another share his home might mean. But Edward brought joy and laughter. Even his incessant questions were useful; why vampires were driven to kill, why Carlisle had chosen another way. Why did Carlisle choose to be a doctor? Why hadn’t Carlisle taken a mate? Who had the brothers in Italy been, and why did they abhor Carlisle so much?

It seemed every day Carlisle found himself forced to reexamine his own life in more detail than he’d ever forced himself to look at it before. Edward took nothing for granted, and as they talked, Carlisle understood himself better in turns.

They had moved away from Chicago that night. Carlisle took the boy out hunting; they ran together all the way to the woods of northern Wisconsin where they came across a herd of moose. Edward killed as Carlisle had in the beginning; with fierce determination and almost no forethought; his kills became little more than splatters of bloody entrails and fur. But even in six weeks, he had gotten better. He was more careful now, and even though Carlisle still insisted that the boy hunt nearly every three days, his willpower seemed to already be increasing.

Carlisle had not created a monster; he had saved a young man.

Edward laughed as he ran. He was faster than Carlisle, which was to be expected for a newborn. Carlisle’s own speed had slowed substantially around the time he had been a year into his new life, and he suspected this would happen to Edward also. But Edward would remain fast, he thought. The boy seemed most at home when he ran like this, dashing into the forest, even when he was not in pursuit of prey. He enjoyed this new life in a way Carlisle had never been able, and his joy was Carlisle’s.

His heart swelled as he watched Edward.

He loved him.

Edward halted so abruptly that snow sprayed into the air. Carlisle nearly ran into him, and only managed to avoid this by dodging Edward at the last minute, running several steps to the boy’s right.

“What did you say?” Edward asked when Carlisle had come to a stop.

“I didn’t say anything,” Carlisle teased. This had become an ongoing joke between them—when Edward would overhear something Carlisle had not meant for him to, and Carlisle would insist that anything that was not audible didn’t count. At first, hiding his thoughts from Edward had been nearly impossible, and he had divulged many things he wished he could have delivered to the boy with more finesse. Yet as the weeks went on and Carlisle grew more adept at keeping the boy from knowing his thoughts, he also felt less and less the need to do so.

“No, but you thought—”

He had thought the words he hadn’t dared say aloud.

Carlisle took a step closer.

“Edward?”

A faraway look had come over Edward’s eyes, and frowned. “Is that true?” he asked.

“Is what true?”

“That you love me.”

Carlisle’s instinct was to say “Of course,” but such answers did not work for Edward, he knew. Placating him was as good as patronizing him, and Carlisle had no intention of doing that.

But there wasn’t much another word for it. His human life had long since faded, save a handful of recollections that occasionally flared like a flame which had been blown on just enough. If he had loved; if he had been loved-he didn’t remember. But with Edward, it was different. At first, the fear of losing Edward had purely been a practical one-if he lost the boy, then he would be responsible for setting a newborn on the loose, and that might mean the Volturi. And then there had been the fear that Edward himself would reject him, that the boy would think of him, rightly, as having created the monster that he still saw himself as.

But now?

Now it was Carlisle who would break if Edward were to be lost. It was irrational, he thought, but maybe that was the point.

Rational was the head. Love came from the heart.

Slowly, Carlisle nodded, and his whole body tensed as he waited for Edward’s reaction. Surely, others had told him he was loved before? His mother, of course-Carlisle had been there to hear those words. And his father.

“My mother,” Edward answered, still frowning. “I don’t remember that my father ever did.”

At once, Carlisle remembered the man whom he’d met at the hospital. Edward Masen, Sr. had been delirious upon arrival. But even he had tried to throw his wife out of the hospital, had insisted that they take “Junior” home, and keep him away.

For a brief second, the forest spun, and his memories shifted. To one of his earliest memories from this new life, not so long after he had discovered a way to live. He hung in England at first, hunting in the forests and, only when freshly back from a large feeding, around the towns and hamlets. It had taken him the better part of a year to feel sure enough to make his way back to London and its overwhelming population, and when he did, he’d found his father was already gone.

He had skulked around Aldgate in a cloak, and from what he had been able to find out, the Reverend’s illness had hit in full force after he lost his son. “As though he didn’t have the will to live,” one woman had said.

William had died not long after Carlisle had.

And so Carlisle had left London entirely, running again to Dover and swimming across to France, where his new life began.

It was funny that he should think of this now, when he was talking to Edward about his own father, for the two had been so different—Edward Masen, with his protectiveness, and William Cullen, with the choke hold on life and death and everything in between…

But then…

Carlisle thought of Edward, running. The way every time the boy took off before him, it crossed his mind briefly that he might never come back. How thoroughly his heart would shatter if that happened. How much his new happiness and joy depended on this child; how much he could not bear to lose him.

And what was that, if not a choke hold?

Edward was still staring, his eyebrows now raised as he listened to Carlisle’s thoughts.

Carlisle cleared his throat, closing the gap between the two of them and resting his hand on Edward’s shoulder. “Your father loved you,” he said quietly. “I know it. You changed his life, as you’ve changed mine.” He squeezed Edward’s shoulder gently. “I do love you, Edward.”

It was the first time he had spoken the words aloud.

For a moment, Edward didn’t respond. Then he nodded, solemnly, and placed his palm on the back of Carlisle’s hand. Saying nothing, he flashed Carlisle a shy smile. Then suddenly the tiny embrace was broken, and Edward took off like a shot.

“Catch me, Carlisle!” he called, his laughter echoing in the trees.

Carlisle blinked as he watched the figure retreat. As he watched the sun glinting off Edward’s hair, turning it from brown copper to the color of coal fire, he understood why his mind had made the connection he’d been unable to.

He had been meant to get here. His father, the Brothers, all those years alone—they were meant to lead him here, to this moment, with this boy. And now he was being given the opportunity to do it differently, to make sure that Edward understood that he was everything. To be certain Edward understood he was loved.

And he would seize it.

Edward’s footsteps were already growing quiet as Carlisle stood; he was so amazingly fast. But instead of dashing after him, Carlisle bowed his head. He still wasn’t sure if the God of men listened to him, but he occasionally directed a few words Heavenward, just in case. Today, he uttered only two:

“Thank you.”

Then, with the sun alighting his skin and laughter bubbling up from his chest, Carlisle ran to catch up with his son.

~Fin~

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Acknowledgements
Historical Notes for Stregoni Benefici
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§ 3 Responses to Epilogue: Father"

  • soonermom says:

    Dare I say, this was the perfect epilogue for this story? I’m pretty sure the goose bumps I got from reading 2 simple words-“Thank you”-justify me saying that.

    And now I would like to give those words back to you. Thank you. Thank you for writing such a poignant and captivating story. I never really cared too much one way or the other for Carlisle’s character. While I often enjoy reading stories focused on the other Twilight characters and even the occasional non-canon pairing, Carlisle held no interest for me. I happened to be in the mood for a story such as that when I kept hearing about how well done Stegoni Benefici was and how it would make you fall in love with Carlisle. I always found your comments on ADF thoughtful and well said, so I decided to give it a shot. And fall in love I did, with both Carlisle and this story! I have an inkling that this will be the Carlisle in which all other fic Carlisle’s will be compared to and judged for me.

    You have my deepest thanks for sharing this story. It has truly been a pleasure to read.

    Melissa

  • DH says:

    Lovely story. So well-written and thoughtful. Where many stories mangle the original canon of Twilight, your work enriches it. Thank you for allowing us to read it.

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