Chapter Summary: So here's the chapter where I show what a take-charge woman I am. Where I show Rosalie who the boss is, and that's me, in case you were wondering. Yeah. Me. Take charge and tell Rosalie what's what! ... What? Why are you looking at me like that? It's worked before, ... right?


I waited, but after a while, after I cried myself out, I couldn't wait anymore.

The water, you know... after waking up when I had to pee, anyway.

"Rosalie," I called out softly.

Silence.

"Rosalie," I said, "I really need to go."

There was a sigh softer than the wind.

The front door opened.

There was a pause.

Rosalie picked me up out of the bed. I was wrapped only in the sheet due to our escapades last night. She brought me past the stove. "Fire's gone out," she mentioned in passing.

"Funny," I remarked without a trace of humor in my voice.

"Yeah," she said, her voice filled with regret.

"Rosalie," I said, "we have to talk."

"Yeah," she said again. "Will you pee first?"

I blushed. "Pee first, then talk," I commanded through my blush. "Don't you go running off after I pee!"

Rosalie brought her hand to my burning cheek and caressed it. "I've got nowhere to run to."

"Rosalie!" I snarled. "If I could smack you, I would! You've got me to run to, don't you know that?"

"I thought you wanted to pee first," she remarked.

I glowered.

"You ready?" she checked.

"I've been ready!" I snapped back.

"Right," she said coolly.

She crouched down forming a natural seat with her spread-open legs, spreading my own legs wide open so that I was squatting over the air.

"I hope you know what you're doing, Miss Hale," I growled, imagining my pee going everywhere, "or else there's going to be a big mess that you'll have to clean!"

"Bella," Rosalie sighed, grasping my tummy and giving it a little squeeze, "just go."

I went.

That sound of pee going right into a chamber pot? Yeah, I knew that sound now.

I blushed as I went.

...

After wiping my privates, Rosalie bathed me.

In silence.

Then she dressed me and stoked the fire in the stove.

Just these simple domestic things reinforced how utterly I depended on her. I could give her a right reaming out, and I was planning to do just that, but then what. "Treat me right, or else!"? Or else what? She could treat me any way she wanted to, and I had no way to make her do anything other than what she chose to do.

"Breakfast?" she offered.

"You stallin'?" I snapped back angrily.

"You hungry?" she demanded.

Rosalie didn't give an inch in her retort. If my words and anger affected her at all, it didn't show.

I swallowed. I was hungry. Starving, in fact. Would it be losing points if I admitted it?

Yes, it would. I wondered if I should answer her, or how, without losing face.

My tummy growled its answer for me.

"God damn it!" I hissed, furious.

I waited for Rosalie to laugh in my face.

She didn't.

"Was that a 'yes,' Bella?"

"Yes," I whispered, ashamed, biting my lip. "It was a 'yes.'"

Rosalie picked me up and sat me down on my chair at the table. I felt her leave me, and I heard her sorting through the consumables in the kitchen area.

"Oatmeal for you this morning, young lady," Rosalie informed me.

"Joy," I remarked.

God! I so badly wanted coffee. Maybe just so I could throw it in her face!

Nah. If I had coffee I would gulp it down like a man drinking water having just been rescued out in the middle of a desert!

...

"You just can't do ... that, Rosalie," I said quietly as the oatmeal bubbled on the stove.

"Do what?"

Rosalie's response was fierce, intense and uncompromising.

Rosalie's response was pure Rosalie Hale.

"That, Rosalie," I said. "You can't do that to me anymore."

"WHAT!" Rosalie shouted. "You tell me what!"

"Jesus, Rosalie," I said, shaking my head, just so slightly.

Rosalie came to the table and bowed my head forward. I snorted.

"I swear to God," I hissed.

"Don't." Rosalie retorted.

I tsked. "Are we ever gonna have a normal conversation?" I demanded.

"Define 'normal.'" was her response.

I sighed and shook my head again. I was pleased I had a little bit more control over my body than I had before, but this conversation wasn't going anywhere, and that pissed me off.

"Well," I muttered darkly, "that answers that question."

I fumed. I bet Rosalie was fuming, too.

And this was our wonderful morning after. It was nothing like I imagined it.

"Rosalie," I said, trying again. "You can't make me feel like dirt."

"That's right, Bella," Rosalie said, "I can't make you feel like dirt. Only you can."

"Oh, my God!" I shouted. "You know what I mean!"

"No I don't!" Rosalie screamed back.

There was a hysterical edge to her voice now that scared me. Rosalie was losing it.

We know what comes after Rosalie loses it.

I took a deep, calming breath, and tried to think how I do this differently to get through to her, because this way sure wasn't working.

"Listen, ..." I began reasonably.

"I am," Rosalie hissed intensely.

I laughed softly. Even trying a different approach, a reasonable approach, wasn't working, and screaming fits didn't do anything except lead to shouting matches and tears. Was there no way I could get through to her?

Maybe there wasn't, Bella Swan, I replied to my own unasked question. Maybe I couldn't get through to her, so how could I proceed?

I didn't know the answer to that question, either.

So, okay, don't get through to her. She wants me to – what did she call it? – acknowledge her. Maybe we can start with that?

"You are," I admitted.

Nothing from her.

"Rosalie," I said softly, and I thought.

Maybe she could help me, I thought.

"Rosalie," I said again, "how long were you outside that door before I called you?"

Rosalie was quiet, then she said. "I don't see what that has to do anything."

She had gotten careful in her response.

"You don't?" I accused.

Rosalie was silent at that.

"Rosalie," I said, "If I hadn't called you, how long were you gonna wait before you came back in?"

I felt Rosalie's cold regard.

"Ro-..."

"Forever," she whispered.

"Why?" I said.

Rosalie was quiet again. "You know I don't like why-questions, Bella," she said.

I wanted to ask 'why' to that, but I figured that conversation wouldn't go anywhere.

So I thought through it on my own.

"Because you didn't want to come back," I said.

Rosalie said nothing. She didn't want to come back.

God.

"Why did you come back, then?"

She said nothing to that, either.

"Are you that ... angry with me, Rosalie?" I asked.

Rosalie tsked, but she answered softly. "It's not that, Bella; I'm not angry with you."

Well, she's not angry with me, so ...

"You're not angry with me ..." I worked through this out loud. "So, ... you ... hate me." I concluded.

If Rosalie weren't angry with me, and she didn't want to come back, then she hated me.

It had to be, right? She regretted last night and now she wanted nothing more to do with me.

"Jesus, Bella!" Rosalie burst out. "The way your mind works, I'll never understand!"

"Well," I said angrily, "you'd never come back and you're not angry at me. What else am I supposed to think?"

"I did come back, Bella," Rosalie said quietly.

"But only because you had to, Rosalie!"

"'Had to'?"

"Yeah!" I shouted. "You had to because you said it's like your duty or something: me."

"Yes," Rosalie shouted back, "I came back out of duty. You are my responsibility, Bella, ..."

"Great!" I shouted, furious, and two tears raced down my cheeks.

"But that doesn't mean I hate you, Bella! God!" Rosalie shouted right through my angry retort.

I sniffled. I sniffled again.

"Then why did you come back, Rosalie?" I asked.

Rosalie sighed.

I felt her come right up to me. She pulled my chair back from the table, then she picked me up, wrapped me in her arms, and sat me in her lap as she sat in my chair.

"This isn't going very well, is it, Bella?" Rosalie said quietly.

"You can change that, Rosalie," I said.

"How?"

I sighed. "Say you're sorry."

"And that will make everything better?" Rosalie demanded, dismissal strong in her voice.

"No!" I shouted, and swallowed angrily. Then I whispered sadly: "But at least it's a start, Rosalie Hale. Don't you see that?"

Rosalie pondered this for way longer than I felt she should have.

"It's just that, ..." she began.

"It's ... 'just'?" I threw right back at her. I was getting good at Rosalie's game of verbal sparring.

I don't know if I liked that.

That stopped her. Her fingers drummed an impatient tattoo on my shoulder.

Eventually, after a 'polite' wait for form's sake, Rosalie asked: "May I continue?"

I thought about it.

Did I want her to continue?

No, I wanted her to apologize. What I didn't want was for her to explain why she wouldn't, and this was sounding very much like that. I didn't want her explanation as to why she wouldn't apologize; I wanted her to apologize.

So, ... but what? Force it out of her? An apology? Force anything out of Rosalie Hale? Just like force three little words out of her.

Three little words like: 'I love you'?

I sighed.

"No," I said finally. "I don't want you to continue. I want you to say that you're sorry. That's what I want, Rosalie Hale."

"D-..." She began angrily.

"That's what I want," I said in a very small voice, one last time.

Rosalie breathed in my hair, deep, strong, even breaths.

Weighing her options? Considering her next move? I don't know what she was thinking: I wasn't her, that could read my mind and just know, and just have an answer to everything I said. I wasn't her.

So I waited her out.

"I'm sorry," Rosalie said softly, distaste in her voice for saying these words.

But wow.

"You're sorry?" I confirmed.

"Yes," she said softly again, but there was a tightness in this one word, and a tightness in her.

"You're sorry," I considered.

Now what?

I worked it out out loud.

"See, okay," I said to her slowly, "this is the part where I'm supposed to say, 'Aw, it's okay,' but it isn't okay."

Rosalie held me and breathed into me as I spoke.

I can't tell you what a comfort this is to me. If there is only one thing in my whole wide world, now utterly dark, it's the solidness of Rosalie Hale. Even as she torments me and infuriates me, she's still here, holding me.

Does she know how important this is to me?

I don't know. I think so. When she made me tell her why I love her, she wouldn't look at me, not as a person, it was more like she were looking at a bug she wanted to crush, and instead of holding me, as she did now, she was all the way across the table, glaring at me, pure anger written on her face.

Even in my blindness I could still see her look of scorn she had then, it was burned into my memory.

Then, I felt so alone. Now, ...

Now, there was her, holding me into her as I laid out my case against her.

"So, I'm supposed to accept your apology," I said quietly, "but the truth is ..."

I swallowed hard.

"... the truth is," I continued bravely, "is that ... you hurt me, Rosalie Hale. You made me feel small and wretched when all ..."

I took a deep breath.

"When all I wanted was to be loved, 'nd ..."

I blinked away tears.

"And, okay, you don't love me. You can't love me. Yo-you're this perfect ... something, I don't know, perfect ... everything, and I ... well," I broke in quickly to myself, "don't get me started about me, okay, but ..."

I bit my lip.

"But I'm at my weakest, and you ... attack me by calling me ungrateful when I am? God! I'm so grateful! I mean, why would you even look at me, and you do, and why would you even, ... you know, last night, and you said you even wanted to and I believed you, Rosalie Hale!"

"I believed you," I said quietly, trying to pull myself up out of my hysterics.

It was working.

Maybe.

"But can you blame me if I couldn't believe what happened last night? Can you blame me for asking you if it was real? If it really happened or was it some stupid dream of some stupid girl who got her hopes up way too high above her head, but, no, you set me in my place right quick, Rosalie Hale, and now you want to say you're sorry and me be okay with it?"

"I didn't wa-..." Her voice, concerned, tried to reach out to me.

I wasn't having any of it.

"Shut up," I said.

She shut up.

"Well," I said, "I don't want to forgive you. At all. I want to hate you. I want to hurt you so bad ..."

I gulped. Should I say 'so badly'? I was pissed at myself that even as I was lashing out at Rosalie, it was her voice in my head correcting the way I spoke.

Like I couldn't do anything good enough for her. Ever.

I pressed on, ignoring my own gaff. "... that you know how badly you hurt me. And then." I gasped. "And then you storm out on me after making me feel like dirt?"

I took a deep, stuttering breath. "I so don't want to forgive you, Rosalie Hale."

Rosalie held me, saying nothing.

Nothing to say? Or did she know how close I was to losing it?

"Rosalie," I said.

I bit my lip.

"Are you truly sorry for hurting me like that?" I dared.

Rosalie breathed, in-and-out, softly in my hair.

"Yes," she said.

The conviction in her voice. That 'yes'... it was her all.

"I know," I answered.

Then I swallowed hard.

Don't cry. Don't cry. Don't cry! I repeated this mantra to myself, over and over.

It wasn't helping.

"Bella," Rosalie scolded, and kissed my crown, "you really need to eat." And she picked me up out of her lap and placed me carefully back in my chair she had just vacated.

"I haven't said that I forgive you," I said through a tight throat and tight teeth.

I was just so tight right now.

"You don't have to," Rosalie's voice floated from the kitchen area.

"Because you read my mind or something?" I asked tightly.

"No," Rosalie said. "Because I read your heart."

Oh, God.

Her words hit me like a physical blow, and I bawled so hard, I actually fell out of my chair onto the floor in a heap, a sack of potatoes, that's me: Bella Swan, crying on the floor.

"Jesus," Rosalie whispered in annoyance at petty-me and my little emotional outbursts.

But I heard her put something down – the pot of oatmeal? – and she came to me, scooping me up and bringing me back to bed. I cried in her shoulder as she carried me.

She put me on the bed and got me settled. I sniffled a few times, and she wiped my face.

"So," Rosalie said, slightly amused, but also resigned, "breakfast in bed, then?"

"Ha, ha," I sobbed.

"Rosalie," I said as I felt her get up from the bedside, "I forgive you."

There was nothing I could see in this infinite darkness. She was there, not three feet from me, but so inscrutable that she could've been a million miles away.

"I know," she said solemnly.

"Rosalie!" I said quickly.

Okay, was I being clingy?

Okay, so maybe I was being clingy.

Did I care?

"Do you know how they say, you know, how you ... you know, kiss, and make up?" I asked carefully.

"Eheh."

Rosalie's wicked chuckle turned my insides into jello. I felt her sit on the bed next to me. She grabbed me by the front of my shirt and pulled me right up to her. I felt her breath on my face, which was suddenly burning up at the closeness of her.

My stomach growled.

Rosalie snickered at that, but before I could react, she kissed me on the lips, a fast, hard kiss, and set me back down on the bed before sauntering off like I knew she would, just oozing sexiness from every curve – I just knew it – so God-damn pleased with herself, that Rosalie Hale.

I wish I could see her, so I could reach out, grab her, and pull her right back into this bed!

I tried to tell my tell-tale heart to slow down and not beat so hard.

It wouldn't listen.

"Rosalie," I whispered.

"Yes, Bella," Rosalie's voice floated back to me from across the cabin.

"So, ... so ... uh, we kissed, you know?" I remarked.

"Yes, I know," she answered, her voice toying with amusement.

"So," I said, swallowing, "do we make-up now?"

The cabin became silent. I started to sweat, wondering if I had pushed things too far.

Then Rosalie did something entirely unexpected: she started laughing and laughing!

She was laughing at me!

"I don't see what's so funny!" I said, miffed.

Rosalie tried to recover, but a chuckle slipped out there somewhere, and don't think I didn't notice!

"I'm sorry, baby," Rosalie apologized so easily this time. "But don't you think it's a little early in the morning for that? Besides, you need breakfast, you wee skin and bones!"

"Hmmphf!" I harrumped, and then I laid right into her. "Too early to start to try to patch things up? Why? You seem all fine, Miss Laughy, but making up is a two-way street, lady, and don't you forget it!"

Suddenly Rosalie's joviality went right away. I could feel it.

"Wait," she said, confused. "You mean ... make-up as in ... just making-up and not ..."

She stopped there.

"What else would I mean?" I asked puzzled.

"What else, indeed!" Rosalie exclaimed.

But now, was there a touch of sadness in her voice?

Making up was a lot harder than I thought it'd be.

"Breakfast is ready," Rosalie said, much subdued. "I... I'll bring it to you."

...

Have you ever been served breakfast in bed?

My whole life, I haven't. I haven't had the occasion to. I don't have a husband, and let's be serious, what husband, after the honeymoon, say, serves his wife breakfast in bed? No, that just doesn't happen, right? Married life is this: the man comes home tired, has supper and wakes up to get to work way too early for any romantic foolishness like this.

That's how it was with Pa. That's how it is with everybody. The men worked hard at their jobs, and the women worked harder. Leastways as I saw it, anyway.

So why else would something like breakfast in bed ever happen for me? Because I got sick?

Rich people can afford to get sick. We weren't poor. Well, I mean: we weren't starving. Pa brought in money: he had a respectable job.

It didn't pay much at all. Sheriff of the smallest county in the world, population-wise? But it paid! That was more that most people could say these days, what, with the Depression on.

Now, nobody worked. I mean, I didn't see Rosalie going off to a job as a school marm or something. Some rich guy's secretary, and she'd take dictation, and he'd take her.

Okay. That line of thought was just making me furious with jealousy.

Stop it, Bella, just stop it.

What I was saying was this: Rosalie wasn't working, and I knew I wasn't. Where was all this money coming from? Was Rosalie so open-handed that she'd run out of her cash reserve in a month? And what cash reserve? She done run off with me and my basket of food! I didn't see her with what-all else! Where was this money coming from for her to buy all this stuff?

And as she so brutally reminded me this morning first thing: all for just me.

I'm German. We Germans don't accept favors, nor handouts.

How much do I owe Rosalie? Just the food and tooth powder for these two weeks is how much?

And then the gifts?

How would I ever pay her back? I hadn't a dime to my name now, and what could I do for work? The only work out here for women was: marriage, or teaching at a school, or ... entertaining the miners and farmers.

And that ...

Rosalie interrupted my nervous thoughts. I felt her sit on the bed beside me.

"Oatmeal," she announced.

"Yeah," I said.

"Hey!" she said sharply, "what's this? Why so glum, chum?"

I blinked twice. "Are you ... trying to cheer me up?"

"Well, ..." she demurred, suddenly shy. "Not that I'm any good at it."

"No, no!" I countered vehemently. I caught myself quickly and tried to respond to her in kind, which was quiet and reasonable, ... because that's exactly how I am, right?

Don't answer that.

"I'm just ..." I said. "I'm just glad you're trying, is all."

"Bella, ..." Rosalie began, but then she stopped.

"What?" I said.

"... nothing." She said.

I rolled my eyes. "Oh, please! Don't you 'nothing' me, Rosalie Hale! Spit it out now."

"It's just that I always try," Rosalie said quietly. "I don't ever ... succeed. Not to the level that I know I can, that I know that I should, but I do try, even when I fail so miserably."

Her heart was in her words. I could hear it.

"Who's glum now?" I asked.

"Me," she admitted. "I am."

A sad quiet draped itself over us.

"Eat," she commanded, brusquely, as if angry at the gloom surrounding us.

I heard a spoon scrape against a bowl, then it touched my lips.

Great, I thought, oatmeal! That'll cheer me up!

Nothing like eating gruel in the morning.

But I took a bite to humor her, and, anyway, what else could I do? Say no and throw a tantrum and starve myself until she served me eggs benedict?

I've never had eggs benedict. I bet Rosalie had them every day, served to her with a silver spoon, I'm sure.

I expected a tasteless morass, but a funny thing happened. What I ate was actually quite good: sweet, but not oversweet, except sudden bursts of fruitiness that surprised me.

"I put raisins in the oatmeat," Rosalie explained.

"I noticed," I said after swallowing.

Rosalie raised a cup to my lips, and I smelled the Earl Grey, but before I took a sip, I said: "You're trying."

"Hm?" Rosalie said, distracted.

"You put in raisins for me," I explained. "You're trying."

"All the time," Rosalie replied.

"For me," I added.

Rosalie sighed. "Nobody else here," she said, impatience creeping into her voice.

It was like she was saying: 'Why doesn't she just eat her breakfast? But now my efforts are just going to waste because of all this serious talk!'

I bit my lip. I wasn't done, even if she wanted me to be. "If anybody else were here, would you try for them?"

"Bella!" Rosalie tsked. "Nobody else is here, okay?"

Her patience was at an end, it seemed.

And she didn't answer my question.

She nudged the tea against my lips, and I took a small sip. The tea was hot, but it was good: it cleared my palate for the next bite of oatmeal.

Breakfast in bed. I never had it before Rosalie, and now she was spoon-feeding me oatmeal and serving me Earl Grey tea.

I bet Kings and Queens didn't get service like this.

I took the next bite of oatmeal, and Rosalie raised the cup of tea to my lips, but something felt ... wrong ... inside me, suddenly.

I felt hot. Really hot.

"Rosalie," I said quickly. I was burning up! "Can you ... nnn ... can you get this blanket off me? I'm hot!"

"Bella!" Rosalie exclaimed, suddenly alarmed. "Your heart! What's happening?"

"I'm hot! I'm hot!" I cried desperately.

There was a crash and a sound of splashing: my bowl of oatmeal landed somewhere in the cabin some distance from us. I don't know. I don't care. I was sweating bullets now, and I couldn't breathe, although I was panting to save my life! Rosalie's hand covered my forehead, and it felt like she was branding me with an icy flame. Her other hand just ripped my shirt right off me, and still it wasn't enough. I couldn't breathe. Everything felt funny, like it was going away.

"God damn it, Bella!" Rosalie shouted. "What's happening?"

"Hot!" I whimpered.

"Shit!" she shouted as she tore my bottoms and panties right off me. "Shit! Shit! Shit! Breathe, God damn it, Bella! Just breathe!"

"Uh!" I cried.

I thought I was breathing, but I couldn't even concentrate on what Rosalie was saying. I was desperately trying to make everything okay again, but the thing was: everything was slipping away.

And I couldn't stop it.

Rosalie jerked me down so I was flat on the bed, but that just made everything worse. Blackness engulfed me in my darkness, and all I could here was my desperate pants as I tried to gulp in air that tasted of nothing.

That tasted of death.

"SHIT!" Rosalie cried.

She straddled me quickly. "Look at me, Bella. Look at me!"

"Can't see!" I gasped. It came out as a whisper.

"LOOK AT ME! God damn it, Bella! Stay with me!" Rosalie shouted, ignoring my protest.

I tried to focus.

There was nothing to focus on.

Snap-snap! Rosalie snapped her fingers twice, right in front of my face. That surprised me out of the black pool, grabbing my attention for an instant, but then I felt myself sliding right back down into the pitch.

"Shit!" Rosalie cried. "Bella, it's the venom! If I breathe for you, I'll just be putting more venom into you! You have to breathe, sweetie! You have to breathe!"

I breathed. I mean: I grabbed at the air for all I was worth.

I guess I'm pretty worthless.

"Fuck!" Rosalie spat angrily. She pinched my nose closed, put her lips over mine, and breathed into me.

I now knew what it was to breathe. Her breath was pure energy; an electric shock coursed through my body.

It wasn't enough for Rosalie. With her other hand she pressed down on my chest in a rapid one-two-three-four beat. Her lips didn't leave mine, but she breathed in a strong, powerful in-breath, right around my face, and then pressing her lips back firmly into mine she breathed the air into me again.

The tiniest trickle of liquid accompanied her breath, and – zaaap! – my whole body shuddered in ecstasy as it trickled down my throat into my lungs as I absorbed it into my being.

I coughed twice, hard.

"That's it, baby," Rosalie said, enunciating each word precisely, but her encouragement did not alter her one bit. She continued breathing into me; she continued beating my heart, or, if not beating it, helping it along anyway.

The episode came and went. I don't know how long, but it was up to a point where I was slipping into the darkness, and the now of me, lying in bed, gasping, sweating profusely, extremely embarrassed.

Oh, and of course I was naked, again. But not like last night.

Rosalie, sensing my recovery, eased her lips off mine, but I could tell she was watching me like a hawk. Her hand remained on my forehead and on my chest, even though she wasn't beating my heart anymore.

She breathed out a long, relieved, albeit cautious, sigh.

"C-cold!" I whispered.

From burning up hot, I was suddenly cold and exhausted.

"Okay, baby," Rosalie said. "I have to change the sheets: they're damp and are making you colder. How are you otherwise? You seem ... recovered?"

"C-c-c-c-c-c-" My teeth were chattering I was so cold, and my whole body was shivering violently.

"Okay, baby," Rosalie said. "Okay, just ... hang in there. I'll get you warmed up as quickly as I can!"

She was good for her word. She ripped the sheets off the bed in rapid order and left me on the bed as she whisked them and herself away.

Naked, cold ... freezing ... just nothing left in me to fight my weakened state, but still painfully aware what a ... liability I was, you know? Rosalie had to do everything for me, and I couldn't even try to help now! All I could do is lie there and shiver helplessly, my teeth loudly chattering away nonstop, and I thought to myself... you big baby! You worthless piece of shit!

I hated myself.

"Puh-p-p-p-pleeease!" I gasped.

"Coming, sweetie!" Rosalie called out from midway in the cabin. "Coming!"

How come she was always so darn fast, but this time it felt like she was taking her own sweet time?

Or were the seconds crawling along too slowly now? Was that it?

Rosalie was back in a flash. She wiped me down quickly with a towel, then covered me. The sheet that went under me, and the sheet the covered me were crisp, clean, – importantly: dry – and to my surprise: super warm.

She must've thrown them on the stove for a bit.

"Uh!" I huffed, surprised.

"Too much?" Rosalie asked.

"N-no!" I said. "It's just that it feels so nice and warm!"

"That's good," Rosalie said. "Feeling better?"

"Yes," I said, "a little bit."

Rosalie's hand rested on top of my tummy, the sheet between us.

I shivered violently. Her cold hand stung me.

She signed. "I'll ... get you some new pjs, okay, sweetie?"

Her hand slid off me and the bed shifted as she left me.

"Rosalie?" I called softly.

"Yes, Bella," she said, her voice soft.

"I almost died just now, didn't I?"

"Yes," she said. "It was a near thing."

I breathed a moment, pondering this.

"Why?" I asked.

"It's the ven-..."

"No," I said. "That's not what I'm asking. What I mean is: why did you bother saving me?"

Rosalie was quiet at that. After a moment, she said: "I don't understand your meaning."

"You were so desperate while I was ... dying. Why, Rosalie. Why. Why do you care?"

Rosalie said nothing.

"What happens to you when I really do die and you can't revive me?" I asked softly. "You gonna kidnap another girl and make her fall in love with you?"

"That's not even funny, Bella," Rosalie answered tightly.

"I'm not trying to be funny," I said seriously.

"Then what are you trying to be?" she demanded.

"I'm just wondering ... no," I said. "I'm worried. I'm worried about you. How are you going to go on after I die?"

"I just will. I don't have any other option," Rosalie said.

"But, like ... how? What're you going to do every day? Nothing? Anything? What?"

"Bella," Rosalie tsked angrily. "It doesn't matter!"

"Does it matter now?" I countered, just as angrily.

Silence.

I realized I could read her silences now.

"It matters now," I stated.

Nothing from Rosalie.

"When are you gonna see that?" I said.

Rosalie said nothing.

I heard her turn from me. I heard her leave me.

Rustling.

Then.

Rosalie, sitting beside me on the bed.

"I'll put these pjs on you now, okay?" she said.

"Okay," I said.

How could I reach through to her?

I don't know.

I felt so lost now.

Rosalie removed the warm sheet covering me and quickly dressed me, first the top, then the bottom. I shivered a bit from the air from the cabin wafting over me, but otherwise I was a rag doll in her powerful hands the effortlessly lifted me up and moved my arms and legs around as she put the clothes on me.

She laid me back down onto the bed and covered me again with the warm sheet.

"Now what?" I asked.

What do you do after you almost die ... again?

"Now you eat," she ordered.

"Why?" I said.

Rosalie tsked. "Stubborn," she whispered angrily.

"Rosalie," I tsked myself. "What's the point! Give me a reason."

"To eat?" Rosalie asked surprised. "Aren't you hungry?"

"No," I answered, then I thought about it. "I don't know. I don't care."

Rosalie drummed her fingers on the bed softly. I felt the vibration go right up through my spine. I felt it, the drumming, in my skull.

But not in my heart.

"So you want me to give you a reason to care? Is that it?" Rosalie demanded.

"Yes," I fumed, "that's it. Just like I said."

"Bella," Rosalie said with deliberation, "you've lost an alarming amount of weight. You have nothing whatsoever from which to draw to fight off sickness, even to recuperate. You need to eat simply to survive now, and, God damn it, Bella!" Her voice became heated and passionate. "Just like I thought – just like I thought! – you are losing whatever resistance to the venom that you did have! You need to God-damn get back up on your own two feet or ..." She paused and drew a breath. "Or you may never get up again. Do you understand me!"

"I understand," I said quietly.

"Good," she growled, and carefully sat me up.

"But it doesn't mean anything," I said, and I blinked away a tear.

"What?" she said coldly.

"I asked you 'why' and you said because I have to survive. You want me to eat to survive. So what? Who cares? Why, Rosalie? Why do you want me to survive?"

"Bella, ..." Rosalie started angrily.

"You tell me why right now!" I spat.

"Or else?" she said.

"O-or..." I gasped. "Or else you can go to God damn hell, and you can take your God damn oatmeal with you, okay, Rosalie Hale? That's ... that's what."

And now I was crying. Two bitter tears slowly slid their way down my cheeks, and I sniffled violently.

"So it comes to this," Rosalie said.

I sniffled again.

"I can't go to hell, Bella," she said sadly. "I'm already there."

I lost it. "Well, then fuck y-..."

Rosalie's hand pressed itself firmly over my mouth.

"You said you wouldn't say that anymore, Bella," Rosalie said, disappointed.

"Newoo ed oh ooo!" I screamed into her hand: You said so, too! "Ut oo id ooooo!" But you did, too!

I was screaming into her hand, and the tears were now free-falling, spilling onto then over her hand covering my mouth.

"So I'm not perfect," Rosalie said, removing her hand from my mouth.

I sniffled snot back into my nose and licked it off my lips.

Lovely. I know.

"But you said you are perfect!" I said, petulantly. "You ... you liar!"

"Yeah," Rosalie sighed and got up from the bed. She returned and dabbed a hanky over my face, then held it to my nose.

I blew into the hanky without her order. We knew the drill by now, I guess.

After I cleared out my head, Rosalie cast the hanky aside and pulled me down into the bed.

She crawled under the sheet herself.

"Am I too cold for you?" she asked tentatively.

"Never," I averred.

"Except when I am," she countered regretfully.

I sighed. "Hold me," I said. That's the only answer I could think of to the stupid shit she was saying.

Rosalie pulled me into her.

This.

This was real.

Everything else wasn't.

"You hungry?" she asked.

Pushy bitch! I grumbled to myself.

"For the oatmeal on the floor?" I asked sharply.

"Plenty left cooling in the pot," she countered coolly.

"Huh," I said, marveling. "... because you're thoughtful like that."

"Yes," she said simply.

"So," she picked right off where she left off. "Shall I fetch some more oatmeal for you, hm? It's really good, hm?"

Did I mention Rosalie is pushy?

"I guess," I said listlessly.

I didn't feel her leave me, however. That's how the weariness overcame me.

I slept in Rosalie's arms.


A/N: How hard is it to say: "I love you"?

How hard is it ... not to?

ps: The violent reaction Bella had here during breakfast where her heart nearly stopped is known in medical circles as a vagal response. Your body slows down when digesting. Right after a heart attack, your body can slow down so much your heart stops and your blood pressure goes to zero. The vagal response. I can't really recommend it. The primary response is to have the victim lay flat and introduce oxygen: "ABC" – Airway, Breathing, Circulation. And keep them present: have them look at you.

Just like Rosalie did for Bella.