Carlisle Cullen was born in London in 1640. That is not the weirdest thing about him.
He’s always had a way with the ill, with the dying. Plague-ridden peasants would flock to his father’s church right alongside wounded soldiers and mysteriously bedridden aristocrats.
As it turned out, his father’s vendetta against witchcraft and sin wasn’t as applicable when it came to his own son. When unrest rises in the congregation, Carlisle makes a deadly mistake, one he’ll make time and time again, the worst mistake anyone could make facing down terrified and furious masses.
He continues to show them compassion.
He didn’t know—he couldn’t have known, not then. That the leper he found dying in the streets, that the man’s heart would stop beating just a moment before Carlisle reached down to touch him.
Carlisle can heal the sick, or at least grant them time enough to heal themselves. He cannot save the dead—not entirely.
The leper, healed, leads the congregation against him. Beaten and broken, Carlisle drags himself into his father’s cellar to hide. He collapses against a sack of potatoes, exhausted and prepared for death—and in a moment of weakness, in a moment of selfishness he later swears to make his last, Carlisle uses his last remaining energy to heal himself.
It takes years for him to truly realize the consequences, to discover what happens when he heals the dying without proper control.
He stops them from dying.
the blood siblings
Rosalie and Jasper Whitlock-Hale are fraternal twins from south Texas. If their names sound familiar, maybe you remember watching Rose compete in the first and only season of a regional Toddlers & Tiaras spinoff—she performed a tap routine to a pop remix of the Star-Spangled Banner for the talent portion of the competition, and won Mini Supreme for her age division.
The child services investigation came a year later. Removed from their mother’s custody and with no relatives willing to take them, the twins expected to be separated for good—until along came the doctor. He’s young and handsome, and, most importantly, extremely wealthy, and because he’s willing to take in both of the siblings, as well as willing to be somewhat unscrupulous as to who receives his money, they find themselves in his custody faster than blinking.
Doctor Cullen—Carlisle, he asks them to call him, but they’re only ten, and Rose has a bit of a lisp without her flipper in, so “Doctor” is easier—has two kids already. Mary Alice, who point blank refuses to respond to being called Mary, is thirteen and suuuuper weird. Edward is 17, and he doesn’t really look that much like Doctor Cullen, but he says they’re actually brothers, and Rose and Jasper don’t look much alike either.
The doctor has a big house on the outskirts of Forks City, and he makes Rose and Jasper sleep in their own rooms, even when Rose says they’re used to sharing, they’d prefer it, really. Jasper insists that it’ll be fine, though, and their rooms end up being right next to each other—close enough that Jasper can link their minds in his sleep, send her feelings of comfort with what their mom had called his “twin telepathy” before she realized it was real.
Three weeks into living with the Cullens, Rose wakes up with a nightmare, and knows something is wrong. Jasper’s door is locked from the hall, so Rose goes for help—except, Allie is the only one in the house.
“Carlisle got called in for an emergency,” she says. “He took Edward along with him and told me not to wake you guys.”
Rose is smaller, but Allie insists on being the one to climb out the window in Rose’s room and into Jasper’s. When she lets Rose in, she looks…really worried.
“I tried to wake him up, but I think he has a fever, and his arm…it looks like he hurt himself somehow. I think it’s infected,” Alice tells her carefully, like Rose won’t understand, like she hasn’t been the one fixing Jasper every time he gets hurt.
Except, if she fixes it now, Alice will see. And then Rose’ll get in trouble, just like when she fixed the bruise on his leg in front of Uncle Blake. And if she gets in trouble, they’ll send her somewhere and keep Jasper where no one will be able to fix him when he’s hurt.
“Can you call Doctor Cullen?” Rose asks, hoping she can just. Get Allie out of the room.
But Alice only looks at her pensively, with just a hint of pity sneaking out from behind the thick lenses of her glasses.
“I know what you can do, Rose. It’s okay—I’m special, too. We all are. It’s why we found you.”
Biting her lip, Rose approaches her brother. She puts a hand to his arm, feels herself becoming aware of the blood rushing underneath his skin. Just under the bruised and angry-looking skin, she can feel where the blood feels just plain wrong, and wills it thicker, wills capillaries closed and oxygen into cells without knowing what any of the pieces are called.
Jasper’s fever breaks soon after Rose fixes his blood, and when he’s awake and properly responsive, Allie kneels on the floor next to the bed.
“Has either of you heard of hemophilia?” she asks, and when they both shake their heads no, starts to explain while they wait for the doctor to return.
Mary Alice Brandon sees the future. Or, well, “the futures” is a little more accurate. It helps to think of time as a concept versus time as a reality as something akin to true north versus magnetic north. At any given time, she can look ahead and see one specific linear future—true north. But the reality of the situation is a lot more complex than that. There are so many variables, all constantly shifting, and if she doesn’t know to account for them, her visions skew wrong, or change at the very last minute. So it might be better to say she sees extraordinarily accurate potential futures.
It doesn’t take her very long to realize that seeing any amount of the future isn’t something other people have the ability to do. Her parents are terrified by the warnings she gives them, too young to have learned to hide anything about herself.
One morning, on the way to preschool, she looks up at her mother and tells her with all the certainty of a child who’s just seen it happen that “Daddy’s going to die today.”
“Please, Mary,” her mother begs, unaware that her daughter is merely a messenger. “Don’t take him from me.”
The first family the state places her with is less than a home. She considers running away, tracking her mother down and explaining everything away, until she realizes her future is becoming clearer. The longer she stays, the more she endures, the more certain it becomes.
On the day she turns eight, her arm breaks, and her foster parents are forced to take her into a specialist in the city for rehabilitation. She wakes up on the morning of the first appointment, and makes sure to fill her backpack with everything she owns, as little as it all amounts to. In the waiting room, she sees him—Carlisle.
Once she’s explained herself to the doctor, to his son, they decide to take her in pretty quickly. Living with them, being part of their family—it won’t be easy, that she can see. But it will be absolutely worth it.
Alice—and Ted knows from the moment he meets her that that’s the right name to call her—fits in quickly. It’s only a year before she starts demanding to help them, to patrol the city and stop criminals and whatever else it is they get up to.
“Allie,” Carlisle tells her, and she hears the “no” before he says it, so she starts chanting “please please please” to drown it out.
They come to a compromise: they’ll discuss it again when she turns sixteen. And in the meantime, she’ll help with research, gathering what information she can on the more longterm cases.
Edward Anthony Masen was born in Chicago in 1901. In 1918, his family fell victim to the Spanish influenza epidemic. (Stop me if you’ve heard this one before.)
Ted’s ability is genetic. When Carlisle meets Elizabeth Masen, her telepathy is much stronger than her son’s—strong enough that too weak to speak, she projects to Carlisle a wish with her dying breath.
Too late to save Elizabeth, Carlisle rushes to save Edward, in his haste forgetting to check for a pulse. This is how he finds his first son: in filth and squalor in an improvised hospital, surrounded by the dead and dying.
Having Edward with him means moving more frequently, means no more “Oh, me? I’m the grandson of the man who used to live here.” Two death-defiers in one household is far more suspicious than one, even if it is also far less lonely.
Edward is angry at first, angry the way Carlisle likely would have been had he had the energy to spare for it at the time of his own demise. When anger gives way to depression, Carlisle finds himself at a loss. Medication isn’t an option—not in their condition. Psychotherapy starts getting trendy around the 50s, but it’s not quite an option for them, either. Instead, Carlisle realizes, he’s going to have to find an outlet for his son in the same way healing people serves as one for him.
He finds this solution altogether by accident: while working in Alaska, they run into a clan of sorts—a clan of people with abilities like their own. A woman named Sasha leads them, and speaks with Carlisle in confidence regarding his struggles with Edward.
The Denalis don’t just protect themselves from a world that doesn’t understand. They use their abilities—Sasha calls them “vestigial talents” but Carlisle isn’t so sure humans aren’t evolving towards these traits rather than away from them—to do good. Her eldest daughter, Tanya, born with an indiscriminate charisma that allows her near total control over most humans, spends her days seducing hikers away from certain doom.
Sasha herself has two abilities—the secondary she says, staring wistfully at Edward as he attempts to avoid Tanya’s advances, is much like Carlisle’s. The primary, she shares with her hot-headed youngest, Irina—speed the likes of which Carlisle had previously thought impossible. Carlisle leaves his expensive instant camera behind when he and Edward strike out on their own, with the promise that Irina will send him some of the photos she takes when she and Sasha compete in scavenger hunts, each trying to visit as many cities as possible in a single night.
As it turns out, Edward’s talent lends itself immensely towards helping others. For the most part, all it takes is being in the right place at the right time—one witness is, for most people, one witness too many to justify acting. Slowly, though, Edward starts to find himself going up against more violent enemies, and less socially motivated to boot. Carlisle has horrendously large savings accounts the world over, though, and they quickly remedy this with the best training money can buy.
Cameras also prove to be a concern as technology continues to improve. After a letter from Kate Denali (and accompanying visit from Irina), Carlisle and Edward adopt masks and disguises for themselves, so they no longer need fear any nighttime sightings.
When citizens finally do catch wind of the hidden men protecting them at night, the newspapers call them Ghosts. Edward laughs when he sees the headline, and Carlisle can’t help but feel proud.
Carlisle first hears of her in 1983. Edward’s been taking a few years to himself while Carlisle goes through medical school again—he could forge the papers, of course, but it’s nice to also be up to date on training and advancements. Germs, for example—that had been a big discovery.
He calls Carlisle from New York, asking for advice.
“There’s a government employee—” Ted starts out the phonecall, and Carlisle very nearly hangs up on him right then and there.
The conspiracy runs deep as it turns out. Everywhere they’ve built contact networks—from Washington to Houston to Roswell—there are whispers, rumours of a mysterious signal headed their way from somewhere deep in the cosmos.
The longer they spend looking, the older the whispers get. It seems impossible that Siberian cave paintings could have predicted the incoming vessel—because that’s what it is, a ship—just as well as modern technology.
When the ship arrives, it arrives empty—or at least, it seems too. Edward, though, the quietest member of the small crowd of interns at the predicted landing site, he can hear the occupant. He can hear them exiting in the midst of all the confusion, and taking over the thoughts of one of the younger scientists—Doctor Esme Platt Evenson.
For all the terrestrial communications Carlisle and Edward had managed to intercept, neither of them had caught wind of the incoming and outgoing messages Esme had been responsible for. They get the story now, in pieces.
The alien is the last of her kind, a race made of energy rather than flesh, with a long and complicated history of—well, of space war crimes. Pirating energy from interstellar travelers and the like. They had required a flesh host to survive within the earth’s atmosphere, and Doctor Evenson had volunteered.
She—it’s complicated, but the alien is capable of absorbing knowledge and mannerisms through the electrical currents of her host’s brain, and she prefers to understand her role in human society through Esme’s role—shows them logs, hidden from the other scientists.
“I can’t explain why she agreed,” Esme tells them, sounding sincere as anything. “But I’m so grateful to her for letting me live. There is…a lot I need to make up for.”
She parts ways with them soon after, but promises to check in periodically, promises that if she ever needs a break, she’ll hunt her Cullen boys down.
There is nothing special about Emmett McCarty. He was born in Tennessee, the oldest of five by about ten years. He’s fourteen when his father and stepmother are killed in a freak hiking accident—too young to take custody of his younger siblings, and too old to be adopted out with them.
By sheer luck—and it is luck; no amount of foresight could have allowed even Alice to predict it—Emmett ends up placed with a foster family in Forks City. One that would rather not have had a random parentless, powerless human placed with them, but welcomes him all the same.
They try to hide it from him, but he’s powerless, not witless. Edward talks about places he’s lived and restaurants he’s been to that google says have been closed since before he was born. Jasper gets sick and better overnight—and anytime Emmett catches Alice announcing the future before it occurs, he finds himself having eerily similar dreams, almost as if someone wants to convince him it’s only deja vu.
Well, that, and their past moves and vacations all neatly line up with Ghost sightings in the corresponding cities.
He knows they’re not expecting him to stay long, which means he’s got to be quick. Ted, Allie, and Carlisle are the ones actually going out at night, so they’re also the ones he’s going to have to be on par with. He doesn’t bother joining sports teams at school—it’d be a liability, to be noticeable. He tells Carlisle he has, though, makes sure it’s when Edward’s not around to catch him in the lie.
Instead, Emmett starts learning to kickbox. Tacks on judo, tae kwon do, karate, anything that’s got a business he can get to by bike or by metro. He might not be able to see the future, or read minds, or be effectively immortal—but he’s not going to be powerless.
On the second anniversary of his parents’ deaths, Emmett takes matters into his own hands.
“I’m sixteen,” he tells Carlisle, who looks wildly concerned at their talk starting like this. “And Alice is nineteen, but I know she’s been going out at least since I got here. And I want to go, too.”
“Go out on dates?” Carlisle asks, like some kind of last resort.
“I want to fight, Carlisle,” Emmett insists.
And fight he does.