“Jasper, my dear little lamb , ” Esme’s tone was fond as she wiped her hands on her apron. “Do Mama a favor and try and keep your little hands out of her baking.” She gently redirected her smallest to the blocks on the floor. “Play with your toys. Mama has to get her baking done for the bake sale tomorrow. We want all the boys and girls at the hospital to have a nice Christmas this year, don’t we?” She went back to folding her dough, humming a soft French lullaby under her breath. “We’ll do the spinach roll ups with onion, the cinnamon apple curls, and then the peach pies. That ought to be enough for a doctor’s wife, hmm?” She sprinkled her rolling pin and began to shape and cut the triangles for her pastries.
Jasper half heartedly knocked around the blocks on the floor as the oven hummed away, the spinach and onion on the stove simmering away, creating a lovely undertone of soft bubbling. Upstairs she could hear Rosalie and Alice discussing in soft undertones of sweet childish Italian what their two dollies would be wearing to their tea party. Outside, Emmett and Edward’s boyish chatter was far louder. She paused and rinsed the flour from her hands, using her super human speed to assemble the pastries and get them lined up on their baking trays.
“Boys,” She raised her voice, hearing them pause in their scampering about. “Please play nicely or you’ll be having words with your father when he gets home.”
“But Mama,” Emmett drew the word out, and she heard him stomp his foot. The advantages of having vampiric hearing: parenting your kids from several rooms over with no loss in volume. “I don’t wanna play soldiers anymore. I wanna go hunt bears and Edward doesn’t and he’s being a baby!”
Edward whined softly. “Not a baby! Jus’.... Papa says we can’t do that or we’ll get hurt!”
“We won’t get hurt, dummy. We’re not even human .”
Esme could hear the eye roll even if she couldn’t see it. She bent, picked up Jasper, and walked to the porch with deliberate footsteps her unruly boys would hear before they saw.
“Uh oh.” Emmett muttered.
She appeared on the porch a moment later, using humanly slow movements as she ever did when her children were regressed. “Emmett, don’t call your brother names, please. Edward, that’s very good for you to remember what Papa says, you did very well. But you should have come and gotten me or spoken up when your brother wants to do something dangerous that goes against what Papa and I say.” Jasper fussed in her arms and she shushed him softly, knowing he was picking up on his brothers’ nervous energy. “There, there, little lamb.” She pressed a soothing palm to his cheek, transferring all the calm and loving mother’s energy. Esme kissed his other cheek and kept her hand in place. “Mama loves you, Jasper.” She turned back to the boys. “You’re upsetting your brother. Edward, inside play, please. Emmett, apologize and then you’re discussing this with Papa later. You’re inside today, too. If you don't’ want to play alone, you can help your sisters with their tea party or help me with my baking.” Esme nuzzled at Jasper’s neck and removed her hand from his soft cheek. “Come now,” she held her hand towards Edward and he surged forward clumsily, taking it. “We want all out little friends at the hospital to have money for a good Christmas, right my dove?”
“Then Mama’s baking will help raise money for that. It’s very important that she get this finished. Will you help keep Jasper entertained for me?”
“What about me?” Emmett whined, following closely.
“I gave you your options, love. Bake with us or help Alice and Rosalie upstairs.”
Emmett’s feet dragged as she shut the front door. “Guess I’ll help.”
It was no secret he’d rather do anything in the world including eat human food than help his sisters play dolls. She laughed softly. “Don’t be grumpy, dear heart. It isn’t at all becoming of a Cullen.”
She put Jasper back down on his play mat. “Alright, who’s going to be a good helper and who’s going to help feed Jasper?”
Emmett rocked on his feet importantly. “C’n I feed the baby?”
Esme kissed his hair affectionately. “Of course, love. Go get his things.” She trusted him only second to Rose when dealing with Jasper. Rose was protective and instinctual, treating Jasper as if he were made of the finest china. Emmett was a little rougher, but no less loving towards their youngest brother. “Okay, my sweet dove, are you ready to help Mama finish baking?” She slid the pastries into the oven.
“Uh huh. C’n I help with the apples, please?”
“What good manners, darling! Of course you can.” Edward had confided to her several years ago that when human, his mother used to often bake apple tarts, or give him apples as treats. She knew he still loved the scent of them even if he could no longer stomach human foods. “Let Mama use the knife. You can put them in the pastry for her.”
Emmett returned a moment later with a stainless steel baby bottle, filled with B positive, Jasper’s favorite blood type. “Remember to burp him, love.”
She watched until Emmett had gathered Jasper up and sat down on the plush rug before returning to her task.
By the time the sun was getting low, the girls had relocated to the yard outside to make flower chains. The sweet aroma of pies filled the house as they cooled, and Edward and Jasper were curled on the sofa with Esme. Emmett lay on the rug, listening as she read aloud from The Velveteen Rabbit .
The crunch of tires on gravel supercharged the atmosphere, Emmett popping up and the two girls outside springing to their feet happily with joint cries of ‘papa!’
Jasper fussed more than ever and Edward patted at her arm quietly.
“Yes my loves, Papa will be here soon.”
Emmett looked at her pleadingly and she sighed softly. “Yes, love. Go with your sisters.”
He ran off and she heard her husband’s low chuckle as he pulled into the garage.
“Papa, did you see any sick people today?”
The door clicked shut and Carlisle laughed. “Hello, my loves. Mmm!” he hugged each child in turn. “Did you all have a good day today?”
“We made flower chains!” Alice squeaked.
“And had a tea party!” Rose chimed in.
“Told Edward he was dumb.” Emmett muttered quietly.
“Your flowers are very pretty, girls. I love you both, now go inside, please. Emmett, you owe me two hundred lines. Go up to the study. I want you to write ‘I will not insult another person’s intelligence’.”
“Okay, Papa. I’m sorry.”
“I know you are. Come here.”
Esme heard the two sets of feet as they approached, Emmett’s going right past and up the staircase.
“Mm,” she kissed him quietly. “Hello, my dearest love. How was work today?”
Carlisle unbuttoned his coat and hung it on the coat rack, the bright black lettering of ‘C. CULLEN, M.D.’ staring back at them as he moved to catch Edward. “Lots of sick ones, today. Pediatrics is overrun with...erm... “ he lifted Edward to his hip smoothly and gave her a meaningful look. “...sniffles.”
He kissed Edward on the cheek. “Hello, my boy.”
“Papa, is lots of kids sick with what I had?”
Ah. The beauty of having a mind-reading son. He sat down beside Esme and held Edward close. “Yes, love. I’m afraid it doesn’t look good. But you’re safe now, dove, you’re here with Mama and Papa and your brothers and sisters.”
Jasper fussed loudly, nuzzling up to Esme’s side.
“What’s the matter, baby?” He frowned softly. “Are you...is he...ill?”
Esme’s brows drew together. “Yes um...I’ve been meaning to bring this up but you’ve been so busy lately, darling. It seems Jasper is experiencing certain characteristics of uh, of his human counterparts.”
“Like what? Do i need to take a look at him? Should I be worried?”
Esme lay a comforting hand on his arm. “Darling, please. You’ll upset him more. No. Just...upset stomach, trouble tolerating his feedings, and um…” She cut a glance and lowered her voice further. “And urination.”
Carlisle blinked and watched a bit of blood dribble down Jasper’s chin. Esme wiped it away. “He’s...that’s...do you think it has to do with--” he stammered, at a loss.
“I have a theory.” Jasper began to wail softly and she gathered him to her lap to rock him softly.
“Of course you do. You’re even smarter than I am, darling.”
“Don’t flatter, my love. But I have a theory it’s something to do with mental regression versus physical regression. Perhaps he’s regressing to human tendencies, his body rejecting vampiric tendencies because he’s so young.”
Carlisle held Edward close and peppered a few kisses to his soft hair. “I love you, little dove.” He blinked a few times, his latest set of contacts disintegrated and he smiled softly at Jasper. “Don’t cry, little one. You’ll be alright. Papa’s a doctor, after all.”
“Yeah. Papa will fix it.” Edward murmured softly, radiating contentment as he nestled into Carlisle’s arms.
“That’s right. And don’t you forget that,” He playfully poked Edward’s nose and the sweet giggle was everything he’d wanted.
“An interesting theory, my love. I think you’re right. Let’s watch him for a few days, maybe increase his feedings to check that theory, and perhaps order a few more diapers. I don’t think we anticipated we’d actually have to use them for their intended purpose.”
Esme laughed softly as Jasper sucked on his fingers, cries muffled.
“You’re using your doctor voice.”
If he could have blushed, he would have. “So I am.”