Chapter Summary: 'Du' in German means 'you.' It just means 'you' ... unless you say it like somebody from the Old Country, when they are saying it to somebody they love, then it gets really embarrassing for everybody else, and you have to look away. But Rosalie didn't say it that way, did she.


I woke, I don't know how much later, but I felt rested, and hungry, and I needed to pee.

Something was off, however.

There was a ... smell.

It was Rosalie.

It was honeysuckle and rose, but ...

But if you leave flowers long enough, they start to rot, don't they? And their sweetness goes from fragrant to overpowering and acidy.

Rosalie's scent was heavenly, still, but there was a hint of rot that if you strained, gave the slighted off-taste to the perfume.

And her breathing ... it was just ... slightly ... off. There was a whine to it, a wheezing in it. I don't think anybody else would've notice or even be able to hear, but I had been with her a while now, and I knew her.

Something was off.

"Rosalie?" I whispered.

"Ja, Bella?" she said lightly.

But her breath said, Breathe-wheeze-breathe ... oh, oh, oh so softly ... like a whisper in a storm.

Like death.

She was in agony.

"Is ... everything okay?" I asked carefully.

"Yes," she said.

There was no strain in her voice. In fact, her voice was a perfect mask of neutrality.

A perfect mask.

"I ... uh ..." I stammered, feeling more pressing matters.

"Of course," Rosalie said. She uncovered me, picked me up, and carried me across the cabin, then pulled off my pj bottoms and panties, holding me in a squat, mid-air.

"Go ahead, sweetie," she said.

I blushed while I peed.

What can I say? Rosalie was just so matter-of-fact about my very private needs, and I guess I wasn't used to the frank way of her care. I don't know if I ever would be.

I finished.

"Hungry?" Rosalie asked solicitously as she cleaned and redressed me.

"Yeah, a little," I said, then I added: "You?"

Rosalie didn't answer. She just carried me to the table and sat me down. I heard her moving about the kitchen.

"Rosalie," I said, "how long has it been since you last went out, you know, to ...?"

"'Hunt'?" she supplied.

"Yeah." I said.

"Six days," she said factually, then put some things in front of me. I couldn't smell what they were, because her scent was so strong. She picked me up, then sat herself down then me in her lap, cradled in her arm, my legs dangling over her leg.

Cradled into her arm, just like a baby being prepared to nurse.

I felt the heat rising from my cheeks. It wasn't from the stove.

"We'll try a bit of toast now, okay, sweetie?" Rosalie said.

I bit my lip. "'Kay," I said, suddenly shy. The way she talked to me – sweetly – further enforced my complete dependence on her, but it wasn't a burden to her, at all. Oh, no: it was quite the opposite, and that was very embarrassing, this new dynamic to our relationship.

That was such a slippery thing already.

Rosalie leaned, just ever so slightly, and got the toast, putting it to my lips.

I took a tiny bite. She had removed the crust, and the toast was slathered with apple butter.

I chewed slowly, savoring the taste of toast and apple butter; homey tastes.

"Good girl," Rosalie purred, pleased.

I blushed, shy.

Then she asked, "Tea?"

I tried to nod. That didn't work. "Yes, please," I whispered.

Rosalie tilted my head back slightly and put the mug to my lip.

It was hot, but not scalding. Rosalie tilted the mug, and the liquid spilled a bit, some falling onto my neck. Rosalie tsked, but despite her displeasure, most of the liquid went in.

I swallow a sip. Rosalie gave me a bit more after she saw I was ready for it.

She took the mug away.

"Toast," she said.

We repeated this routine: me in her arms, slowing chewing toast, carefully sipping tea.

The whole time Rosalie cooed over me, just so pleased when I took my small bites or sips, or she just clucked with displeasure when I didn't get it just right. It was ...

It was ... scary. Her caring for me so completely, me doing absolutely nothing, except being a 'good girl' or a 'tsk-tsk! Bella! Really?'-girl as I ate toast and drank hot tea.

Afterward, Rosalie picked me up as easily as she were lifting a feather, and carried me back toward the bed.

"Rosalie?" I said.

"Ja, Bella," Rosalie purred. I heard the smile in her voice.

I bit my lip, then said it. "You can call me 'baby' ... if you want to."

Rosalie didn't react at all, she just put me gently into the bed.

"I don't want to," she said finally.

"Why not?" I asked, surprised by her answer.

"Because you don't want me to," she said.

"I changed my mind," I said.

Silence.

"Why?" she asked.

I couldn't read her at all.

"Because you want to," I said.

"Bella," Rosalie tsked angrily. "I just said..."

"I know what you just said, Rosalie," I said. "You said you don't want to because I don't want to. Well, I changed my mind, so, it's okay: you can if you want ... if you want to now."

Bleh! Why do my words always say things the wrong way?

I heard Rosalie drum her fingertips on her arm angrily, "After you so vehemently asserted you're not my baby, Bella, – and you're not, by the way, okay? – you ..."

"Rosalie," I said.

She was using my exact same tone that I used last night to her against me.

"What?" she snapped curtly.

"I'm not a baby," I said. "But I want to be your baby, now. Not like: 'ga-ga, goo-goo,' but, like ..."

I blushed.

"Like what?" Rosalie pressed, still angry, not giving me an inch.

So I pressed forward. "Like, just now." I said. "Like just now, Rosalie, where you take care of me when I need to be taken care of."

"Why?" she snarled.

"Because you're happy then," I said.

"What?" she snapped.

"Rosalie," I said softly.

Rosalie blew out a long, angry sigh.

"Yes, Bella; what!" she said impatiently.

I smiled a small smile.

"Rosalie," I repeated, smiling.

"Well, what?" Rosalie demanded, her patience gone.

"Because you're happy then," I said, "that's why. That's all I want. I love you." I explained.

I paused, realizing what I just said, and what that meant.

"I love you," I said again, "and I want you to be happy."

Rosalie was quiet for a second. "Jesus!" she whispered angrily.

"Did you bow just then?" I demanded archly.

"Yes," she answered tightly.

"Good," I smiled.

...

"Rosalie?" I said.

"Ja, Bella?" she whispered in my ear.

We were ...

Okay, we were cuddling, okay?

Okay.

See, Rosalie had just stood there for a while. And I didn't say anything, but then she relented, or her perfect will crumbled, whichever, I don't care, because then she crawled into bed, cradling me into her.

I think she likes this arrangement. Our 'sleeping arrangements,' as she had called it.

"You were going out, like, once or twice a day before, but now you just stopped going out to ... you know ... hunt. So, ... why six days now? Aren't you ... hungry? Why haven't you gone out?" I asked.

Rosalie traced my arm lightly. It tickled, a little bit. I ignored that.

"Whenever I go hunting, I come back to you dead."

"Not true," I countered, slightly miffed.

"Close enough, though," she answered.

"Oh, please!" I said angrily. "Really, so, now what? You're just gonna stay in the cabin forever?"

"Yes," she whispered.

"Oh, my ... God!" I exclaimed, shocked.

"Particularly now, Bella," Rosalie said over my surprise. "Your condition is critical and requires constant observation."

"Until when?" I demanded sharply.

"Until you've sufficiently recovered," she answered reasonably.

"Which is when? Never?" I shouted.

Rosalie didn't answer.

"And ... what? You gonna starve yourself until then on my account?" I pressed.

"Actually, I should be able to last ten or more days between hunts, so ..."

"You 'should'?" I shouted.

"Technically, ..." she said, musing, "I could last indefinitely, because, being an energy sink I could ..."

"Technically?" I screamed, really angry now.

Rosalie had no answer for me.

"Rosalie," I said, "go out. Now."

"No," she whispered.

"Why?" I demanded.

Again, no answer.

In fact, she wasn't breathing, but I could still hear it, the pained, needy whining. It was a hum radiating from her gut out to her arms down to her fingertips, caressing me, and her scent, ... it was sweet: over-sweet... sickly-sweet.

"Rosalie," I said, "remember how you said how I wouldn't like you when you're angry, well," I said, "guess what? For your information, I'm really angry right now, and the only thing that's gonna save your hide is if you skedaddle. How're you thinking you can take care of me when you can't even take care of yourself, I swear."

"Ooh, scary!" Rosalie said weakly, trying to sound petulant.

"Rosalie," I said annoyed, "just go, before I get really angry!"

"But you said you already were," she answered softly, sadly.

"Angrier!" I shouted angrily.

"Bella, ..." she said.

"GO!" I screamed.

"You die," she whispered, but so clearly my shout was nothing to her whisper, "and I may not be able to revive you this time."

"So I won't die, okay?" I snarled. "Jesus!"

Rosalie bobbed my head.

I tsked furiously. "I mean, what do you think of me? Don't answer that!" I added quickly, "just GO!"

"O...kay," Rosalie relented.

She got up from the bed, pulling her arms away from me, and I felt it, my soul, my being going with her as she pulled away, but I was just so angry now – Rosalie Hale! Who does she think she is? Not taking care of herself, and she expects she can manage me! – that I bore down and ignored it.

I felt her leave. My ears, super-sensitive now, almost twitched following her every movement about the cabin. Who knew it took her so long to just go, but I heard the sounds of her dress slipping off her in a whisper ... and, okay, I blushed, okay? ... and then the sounds of her sliding into something harsher ... jeans, maybe?

She'd kill the jeans-casual look.

She'd kill any look, obviously.

I wish I could see her.

"Bella, ..." she whispered. The longing in her voice almost physically pulled me right up out of the bed.

I wish it actually did.

Then I heard the door open and then close. A blast of cold air sent a chill over me that touched my very soul.

"Rosalie?" I whispered.

Nothing.

No 'ja, Bella?' that had so confused and annoyed me every time she said it.

She was gone.

I never felt so alone in my life.

I tried to be brave. I told myself that I told her that she had to do this for her own good.

That's what I said.

But why did it fall on me to have to tell her what she had to do?

Why did she have to leave now, when, inside, my heart ached with emptiness?

The tears fell, damn them, and somewhere, a girl was sobbing softly.

Why did she even need me? Why would she ever come back now? My fears returned. I was helpless now, and useless: an invalid. The bitter irony of this was I practically shoved her out the door, giving her the excuse now to leave and never to come back.

The girl's sobs got a little louder.

Why didn't this stupid girl just shut up? It was her own damn fault! I hated this girl.

Softly: "Bella,"

I absolutely screamed.

Rosalie sighed.

"See, this is why I said I didn't want to go," she explained crossly.

"I THOUGHT YOU WERE GONE!" I shouted, scared out of my mind. Scared, embarrassed, and now ashamed that she caught me like this.

Rosalie sat next to me on the bed. She touched a hanky to my cheek, then covered my nose. "Blow," she commanded tightly.

I blew my nose against the hanky.

Rosalie folded it. "Blow," she commanded again. I did.

"Bella," she tsked, "are you a three-year-old? A three-year-old can do better than that. Now, blow!" she said. I sniffled, then blew hard.

Not hard enough to blow out my brains, but my head was clearer now.

Of snot, anyway.

Rosalie took away the hanky. "What am I going to do with you, Bella Swan?" she asked, displeased.

"I don't know," I whispered, then asked: "What are you going to do with me, Rosalie Hale?"

Rosalie sighed. "Well, I can't leave you if you're going to exacerbate your condition by ..."

"'Sulking'?" I offered sulkily.

"... dwelling on the 'misfortune' of you taking some responsibility, finally," she huffed.

Rosalie emphasized the word 'dwelling' to make sure I got it. Oh, I got it all right!

"'Finally'?" I emphasized a bit of my own right back at her.

Rosalie growled.

"So," she said impatiently, "shall I stay?"

"No, go," I said sadly.

I could feel Rosalie seething. "... God!"

"Rosalie," I said, "Just go, okay? Just go!"

I wish I could turn away, so she wouldn't see me. I just wanted to be furious with her, and not miss her to death. But I knew my tell-all face was revealing what I didn't want it to.

"And come back to what?" she demanded.

Now I was the one who had no answer for her.

I felt Rosalie's hand rest on my shoulder, which shocked me. She was so silent! I wish I could see, but the darkness in my eyes was impenetrable.

She brought her hand up to my cheek. "Be here," she said, "when I come back, alive, and well, and ... I'll make it worth your while."

The temperature in the room rose a degree or so, maybe?

That's how I explain the sweat trickling down from my armpits.

"How?" I whispered, scared.

Rosalie didn't answer, not aloud, anyway, but she tilted my head back, her lips brushed mine, lightly.

And then she kissed me, a soft, sweet, lingering kiss.

When her lips finally left mine, my heart was beating a million miles to the minute.

"I'll let you figure that out, baby," she purred sweetly.

"You..." I breathed and swallowed hard. "You mean ..."

I blinked rapidly but then frowned, suddenly scared and furious. "Don't you ... toy with me, Rosalie Hale. Don't do this to me unless you damn well follow through, or I swear to God..."

"Bella, language," Rosalie said, a quiet command.

"Language nothing!" I shouted angrily, the my voice grew steely. "I ... I swear, I'll die if you spin me up and welch on this again, and you damn well know it! You promise this to me now, ..."

"I've promised nothing!" Rosalie cut in.

"... and you come back with a stupid change of heart and are all like, 'no, this isn't right,' and I swear!" I continued, undeterred.

Rosalie deliberately and firmly entwined my hair in her right hand, then seated my chin in her left. My head was in a vise of her hands and I was very effectively silenced. "I hear you, Bella," she said. "Now you hear me."

She held me still until she knew I was listening.

Then she continued, her own cold fury a seething undercurrent of her words: "Nothing is going to happen if I come back to you dead or dying or in such a delicate position that I have to nurse you back to health, ... again! Anything that will happen, will happen, sweetie, but only if you're game when I come back, so you, young lady, better damn well surprise the fuck out of me with your marked improvement upon my return or else there will be hell to pay, not heavenly bliss, and that's the deal, sweetheart, get me?"

I glowered in her hands: "Leths!" was all I could manage through my tightly pressed-together teeth.

"Good girl," she condescended in a snarl matching my own anger measure for measure.

But then she leaned in and kissed me.

Firmly.

Softly.

Passionately.

For a long, long time.

When she broke the kiss I was seeing something all right: stars. Sparks danced around on the insides of my eyeballs in the pitch blackness that was now my life, and my breaths came in quick gasps as I sucked air back into my lungs.

Rosalie didn't need to knock me down with a feather: the kiss had done its job but good, and my body was all aflame and aflutter.

I bit my lip, as the warmth suffused my body, turning everything inside me to liquid. "You could ... you know," I said quickly, "I mean, stay ... now, and ..."

My tell-all face looked hopeful.

"I don't, ..." Rosalie cleared her throat.

"No, it's okay, ..." I said quickly.

"... I'm sorry, sweetie," she said, equally flustered, I heard. "I don't trust myself now," she finished.

"... It's all right; just go," I said at the same time.

And I was embarrassed that I was shoving her out the door again, when I really didn't want to, and I don't think she wanted me to, either.

"Okay," she said sadly, her voice hurt, and I felt her rise from the bed.

"Okay," I said sadly, and I told myself: This is for the best. She does need to go out and take care of herself. Really.

Then I told myself: God damn it! Just God damn it and why is 'the best' have to suck so much?

I felt her leaving me.

"Rosalie," I said.

Nothing from her.

That hurt.

"I love you," I said.

I tried to say it like ... just like: I love you and that's it. Not like, I love you and please come back.

I tried.

Rosalie's silence was conflicted. "I ..." she said, then, clearing her throat quietly said: "Take care of yourself, Bella Swan; do."

And then she was gone.


A/N: The German word for 'thou' (In English: 'you,' familiar form) is du, meaning beloved, and sounds exactly like Rosalie's final entreated word for Bella to take care of herself: do.

This note has no bearing on anything. I only mention this observation in passing.

ps: I struggled with this chapter title. Struggled! "Tell-all Face"? "Tell-all but say nothing"? "Do"? "Du"? "German"? I settled, begrudgingly, on "You" because, you know: I have to publish this chapter, and, fittingly, I thought, this chapter is all about "you." (German: du or 'thou'). Martin Büber's work: ich und du, or I and Thou is about getting so much into the other person that they are no longer Other but they are You: du/thou. In this chapter, all Bella's concern is is just and only Rosalie, even though Bella is dying inside, and all Rosalie's concern is Bella, even though Rosalie is dying inside. Both would rather die than see the other hurting, and doesn't that hurt so much? Isn't it sad that the only solution here is that they have to part?