It was one of the few times that Carlisle Cullen requested his shift at the Forks Hospital to be over before his children got done with school. Usually, he took on the responsibility of working while they were at home in the afternoon so that some of the doctors who also had children could go home and spend time with their family. It was a small sacrifice he was happy to make so that those whose lives were ticking away could be with those they loved while they still had time.
Today was different. For the first time in a long time, Carlisle feared the thing that humans fear most. He feared the end. He was scared that death was finally going to come and tell him that his time was up. Or worse, that time would be up for his family.
The newborn army was fast approaching and it was only a matter of time before they had to attack. It was something that nobody casually talked about, but was an obvious threat still lingering in every activity that they did. Carlisle noticed the way that Emmett held Rosalie tighter, like he might never hold her again. He noticed the way Jasper studied Alice, like she was going to disappear right before his eyes. He noticed all of those things, and although he was terrified that their fears could come true, he had to remain strong in front of them. He was their leader, and because of that, he could not seem weak. Not now. Not when things were like this.
That’s why he requested to get off work early today. He had to go home without them around. He had to go home to the one person he could be weak in front of. The one person he was worried about more than all of them. He was selfish when it came to her, and that frightened him. The things he would do to keep her safe were unspeakable. If he had to pick between saving someone else and her, he wouldn’t hesitate. The thought of losing her…Just the thought of losing her was enough to destroy him.
She didn’t want to fight them. At first, she refused to train. She told him that she couldn’t kill someone else voluntarily. He understood where she was coming from. He was not looking forward to killing newborn vampires who had the potential to grow. He had spent many nights contemplating how it would corrupt his soul to murder another, even if that person was trying to murder him. But then, Edward asked him what he would do to protect Esme, and Carlisle knew what had to be done.
Esme eventually relented to training, but she still seemed uneasy. She wasn’t really a fighter, a fact that seemed to worry many of the Cullen family. She had the ability, just like the rest of them, but her mind was much softer. She would hesitate, and that wasn’t a good thing. Edward particularly seemed bothered. He was always looking to Carlisle to see if he would be angry or upset with him for pulling his mate into a fight she clearly wasn’t up for. Carlisle kept a steady composure. He refused to let any negative emotion show. If he looked as torn up as he felt inside, he knew that it would only lead to more panic.
Carlisle pulled into the driveway of their house. His body felt stiff. He didn’t want Esme to think he thought she wasn’t capable, but he couldn’t calm down the chaotic thoughts that were swirling his mind. The way she would frown when she knocked Rosalie down, offering a hand to help her up instead of continuing the fight. What if she found someone she thought she could help, and they hurt her? What would he do? How could he keep fighting if she was gone? How could he lead a coven if she wasn’t there to keep him grounded?
Carlisle climbed out of his car, dashing quickly inside. He dropped his things by the door and ran directly to Esme. He flung the door open to the bedroom and pinned her down to the bed before she could even utter a noise.
She let out a laugh as she looked up at him. “You’re home early, Dr. Cullen.”
“Esme,” he breathed out, closing his eyes. He took in her familiar smell, the one that always made him feel safe. A swirling aroma of wildflowers and honey-suckle. “I love you. I love you so much.”
Esme gave him a soft smile that didn’t quite reach her eyes. “Is everything okay?”
Carlisle felt the walls he built up in front his family break down. He cupped her face, his thumb lightly tracing her jawline. “No, my love. I have been torturing myself with thoughts that I don’t ever want to see come true.”
She reached up and grabbed his arm. “Everyone will be okay. You have been a strong leader during all of this.”
There she was, comforting him. Telling him what a good leader he was and giving him reassurance. Usually, he sought out her comfort, but it wasn’t enough now. He needed to know she would be okay.
“I have been strong for them,” he agreed. “And yet, I’m weak when it comes to you.”
“You won’t lose me,” she spoke as if she could read his mind.
Carlisle should have known that he wasn’t hiding his emotions as well as he thought. He could fool everyone else, but he never her. She noticed they way his hand was finding hers more frequently. The way he kissed her longer, savoring the taste of her lips.
“You have to promise me that you won’t hesitate to kill them,” his voice sounded firmer than he felt. He looked down at her, watching as her eyes flittered around nervously. “Esme, do you know what it would do to me?”
“I know,” she admitted. Her eyes darkened slightly. “I know what it would do to me if I lost you.”
“Please,” his voice broke. “Please just promise me.”
Esme pressed her lips to his, pulling him closer to her. She made her way up his jaw, pressing feather like kisses as she traveled to his ear.
“I promise,” she whispered.
Her hands went to his hair as his body reacted to her. He kissed her with desperation. He kissed her like it might be the last time he would get to. It was slow and passionate. His tongue invaded her mouth, forcing Esme to let out a moan. She gripped him tighter, feeling the warmth radiate from him.
In that moment, Carlisle made a vow to himself that he would fight along side her. He knew that he would not be able to focus unless she was in his line of sight. Promise or not, he knew that Esme couldn’t change who she was. She was scared, and so was he. But, they would be a team, and even if she did hesitate, he wouldn’t.
He wouldn’t lose Esme.