A/N: Hello! This is the first chapter of my Rosella fic, Metaxis. Both Rose and Bella will be somewhat OOC, and this story won't have a great focus on the more lethal aspects of Bella's interactions with vampires. I don't envision it being overlong, perhaps 20,000 or so words. Anyway, I hope you enjoy it! I love you!
Denali National Park, to be more precise. The Alaskan coven had built their cabin high in the alpine level of the park, far and away from prying eyes and unsuspecting mortal hikers. Amongst the rolling hills and steep inclines that made up the base of Mt. McKinley, where the periwinkles and fuchsias of bluebells and saxifrages coated the ever-shifting grasses, a sheer drop-off of cold, grey stone stood antithetical against so much colour.
This cliffside, a few short miles from that warm home of oak and mahogany and carefully chosen stone, held the undisputed best view of the lowlands. From this flat peak, one could simply see to the very edges of the Earth, or so it seemed. The horizon curved there, the skybox blurring in the distance. At closer range, the Talkeetna River bled into estuaries several miles off, rushing past Anchorage and into the Bay of Alaska, that frigid place of ice and death. And even closer still, where spruces and birches rose proudly, their pale trunks fettered with the deep orange glow of lichens and mosses, life ran rampant and unabashed in the dense boreal forests.
Herds of deer pranced in the light, fearless of man and machine. A solitary grizzly, a veritable god of the wood, so many hundreds of pounds of fur and muscle, chewed contentedly on wild berries, gleaming claws stained with the lifeblood of the forest. The keening, haunting howls of so many wolves, glowing yellow eyes of that most respected predator, pierced the sky like the Spear of Longinus in Christ's side, sharp and cruel in the once-peaceful silence of so ancient a place.
It was there, on that precipice, that one Rosalie Hale was having an existential crisis of the immortal sort.
Being a vampire – and that term being used loosely in the face of so much misinformation of that particular supernatural species – threw every seemingly minute detail of a life lived and magnified it a thousand-fold. Hesitance became unbending and unbowed rigidity, annoyance became boiling rage, dislike became unfettered and shameless hatred, and love morphed so very beautifully into outright worship. The subject of a vampire's love might as well have been blessed by the gods and offered divinity of their own, the way that immortals showed their devotion to one another. They became sacred at that point, a being worth veneration. Shrines could be built upon it, offerings of blushing virgins and the sweetest morsel of a meal thrown into a brazier for their pleasure given freely.
Alice had told her that their impending newcomer would spark that most terrifying of emotions in Rosalie. They had lived a solitary life in so many places, their placements on the outskirts of civilization and society dictated by Edward's uncanny telepathy and Alice's downright mind-boggling clairvoyance. When Edward would read that people were becoming suspicious, they would flee respectfully and efficiently. When Alice would See an impending circumstance of Fate – that most horrid bitch of the divines – they would flee once more. It became a cycle of familiarity to them all, though the tiresome nature of their semi-nomadic lifestyle would grate on them constantly.
A return to Forks a year and a half prior had been a metaphorical godsend, the constancy of overcast and dreary weather, along with an unnaturally dense and unsuspecting populace, had provided them with a scant few extra years to stay in the same place and do the same thing once more. The students at the school were the same as they were in every American town – that is to say, irksome, loathsome creatures.
Had Rosalie not crafted a persona for their interactions with the world away from home, she mightn't have been able to endure the ogling and obscene whispers that unfailingly flew her way. The unflinchingly perverse mind of the teenage boy, and indeed, some of the teenage girl, would never cease to disgust her. She could not read minds like Edward could, a blessing in an otherwise cursed life, but their eyes told her enough. They would leer at her, undress her with their eyes, and do as much as possible within the admittedly lax rulings of the schools with their otherwise useless bodies to make her uncomfortable.
Thus, the Ice Queen.
She had to admit, the alias wasn't bad. As far as alter egos were concerned, hers was by far the best and most accurate, and though it had been created and given life like Frankenstein's creature as a means to poke holes in what chinks in her armor the adolescent fools thought they might find, she had embraced it fully. To anyone not bearing the surnames Cullen or Hale, Rosalie would be the Ice Queen forevermore. And so, she had taken to enforcing her reign of taciturn indifference with gusto. But even that was exhausting.
Alice would tell her that she was going too far, Jasper would worry over what such forced callousness could mean for her mental state, Edward simply sneered at her, and Emmett – Emmett, like any baby brother, would only look upon his older sister with admiration and unyielding support. If she was to be the Ice Queen, he would be her championing favored knight for this cold, black void of eternity.
But truthfully, internally, Rosalie Hale was soft. That external visage of a serrated knife made of shattered glass – clear, jagged, and all too willing to cut deeply and bask in the spilled blood – was only that: a visage. She longed for the same things as any other person: peace, love, and purpose. To be denied those most coveted things by merit of what she was, a deserved fate if Edward were to be asked (though by mutual silent agreement of the entire family, he never was), rang as a solitary church bell in her chest as dreadfully hollow.
That thought alone had engaged her to flee from Forks for a weekend, coincidentally the same weekend that the subject of Alice's glee and Rosalie's crisis had arrived in Forks, to do a bit of mild soul-searching. When Alice had finally given up the ghost and told her of the vision, a solitary word of it had been the particular point to fry Rosalie's nerves into a shriveled, blackened mass.
"Oh, Rosalie, it was so beautiful to See. The both of you in the garage, laughing and holding hands, so untroubled. You were so good for each other, so enraptured. She was so in love with you, I could tell. It's all in the eyes," she had chirped, wide-eyed and infectiously joyful.
Rather than responding, Rosalie had simply run upstairs and grabbed her phone, silent as the grave, and flown out her window northward. By the time she had stopped and checked the forty-six messages on her phone, Denali was closer than Forks. And so, her current circumstance.
One could understand Rosalie's confusion, and though she would deny it for centuries to come, panic, at the sudden revelation that she was indeed gay. For the entirety of her human life, being homosexual was considered a most foul deviancy, a one-way ticket on the Crimson Express to Hell. And after her Change, any introspection done by her was merely to the extent of self-loathing for her vampirism, leaving no room to reflect on any other part of herself from fear that she would find even more to hate herself for.
Desire in any capacity had become immaterial to Rosalie beyond the unceasing burn in her throat. It was all she had room for, or so she had assumed. Her family, her garage, her thirst, and herself, in that order, unchanging for eighty-eight years. It was simply the way of things, and a rift in that most comfortable, if not very pleasant or fulfilling, pattern sent the wild, frantic paroxysms of terror into the crystallized muscle of her heart.
But then there was the idea of it all. Alice had sounded so sure, so confident, that this girl, whoever she may be, would be good for Rosalie. That Rosalie would be good for her, and that was the more essential peculiarity of what Alice had told her. The idea of loving someone wholly and without reservation, of giving up every bit of herself and receiving that same care and fidelity in return, was so alluring as to be sinful. She thought she should feel guilty at such an all-consuming desire, regardless of the girl's mortality and fragility.
And that desire, more than her prior panic, steeled her resolve.
She would not run away from this chance, nor would she balk at it, no matter what difficulties may stem from it. If Alice was confident about what she had Seen, Rosalie would trust her implicitly as she always had. And when the girl finally showed her face, unwittingly became the centre of Rosalie's universe, she would embrace it fully. She would love her to the ends of earth and time immemorial, as everyone deserved. As she deserved.
For this one person – this human – she would let the Ice Queen melt.
She released a breath she'd been holding for hours, watched the fine mist of it steam from her lips and disappear into the subzero chill. Denali was the perfect place for solitary introspection, Carlisle and Tanya had informed her once, and she felt she had to agree. It was such a peaceful area, a biome of pure wildness, plucked out of time and held firm in its primordial beauty. The wild places of the world were diminishing so rapidly in the face of human expansion, and she thought forlornly that one day, this place would be lost as well.
"I wonder if she likes cars," Rosalie whispered to herself with the tiniest of smiles, slowly turning on her heel and blurring into near nonexistence in speed as she made her way back to the Denali cabin. It would be rude to leave without saying goodbye, after all.
Bella found herself channeling Sartre as she exited the main office of Forks High. In no other place on Earth could such glaring and perfect examples of mauvaise foi be found than a high school, and the disputation bandied about by the boorish faces of Lauren Mallory and Jessica Stanley on the virtues and failings of the many boys in town threatened to drive her to insanity before the semester was out. When their conversation moved on to a Sadie Hawkins' dance, she moved her internal timetable up. She would be lucky to last the day before being declared fit for a sanitorium.
Her first day in Forks had been one of illustrious homecoming. Charlie had (perhaps illegally) decorated the cruiser with strings of cans, confetti, and window paint that read 'WELCOME HOME BELLS' on the rear windshield. The pair had greeted one another warmly, if not a little uncertainly, but all stilted feeling had been washed away the moment Bella had inhaled the helium from a balloon and began to belt the theme song from COPS whilst Charlie blared the sirens in unchecked glee. The day had ended on a light note, with pizza and a welcome home gift in the form of a 1983 VW Rabbit, purchased at under-market value from Billy Black, resident paranoid and Charlie's oldest friend. The master cylinder, she'd been informed, had been a particularly difficult piece of part to come by.
Charlie had welcomed her back into the fold with open arms and awkward smiles, a familiar and pleasing fallback of her youth that she would never be ungrateful for. His easy and open acceptance of her was a gift she would forever cherish, and unlike Renee, he would never hold her faults and failures against her. She would always and eternally be his 'little girl', and in his eyes, no amount of angst or unexpected declarations would affect that.
It had taken six years for her to come out to Renee. It had taken one afternoon for Charlie.
She remembered his unfailing smile and knowing eyes fondly, a cherished memory. It had been so easy to do, a simple conversation and unfettering of truths.
"I'm gay," she had said.
"Cool, wanna get pizza?" he had replied.
Her rambling thoughts were brought to a screeching halt when her eyes met the five Olympians entering the cafeteria from outside. It was like a scene from a movie – one of the classics, as captivating as Rita Hayworth's sultry ingress in Gilda – as they entered and sauntered to their table. To a one, they were porcelain pale and painfully gorgeous. Like painted dolls, she thought, there was something distinctly other about them. They seemed as out of place as she felt, and if the sudden hushing of the students around her was any indication, it seemed she was correct. The first two, a diminutive girl with a shock of unruly black hair and a tall drink of water with blonde curls, gracefully swept from lunch line to table without a look away from one another. The second couple, and was that ever a surprise, was comprised of two boys – a mountain of a man with curly black hair cropped close at the sides and a copper-haired boy with elfin features, hand-in-hand unabashedly. That, more than anything else she'd seen and heard so far, gave her hope. They were out, proud, and together, resolute in themselves and one another.
It was only when the last of the New Gods arrived that all sense and meaning escaped her.
Bella Swan was an even mixture of nihilist, existentialist, and hopeless romantic. Nothing mattered, she hated that it never would, but she loved the idea of it all meaning something. These three philosophies warred within her conscience daily, and no battle in the confines of her mind was without casualty. But this day, as Aphrodite herself strode across the room, golden eyes cold and uncaring, she felt the romantic win.
She was perfect in every aesthetic way possible, and quite a few that Bella wasn't entirely certain weren't impossible. Her ash-blonde hair fell in wavy tresses, silky and bouncing with each step. The clothes, no doubt brand name, couture, criminally expensive, framed her figure in such a way that nothing was left to the imagination, yet was still tasteful. Bella could tell she was staring, and though tearing her eyes away from the unknown divine being was painful, she would not leer unwarranted at the girl. But that didn't mean she wouldn't sate her curiosity.
"Who're they?" she asked the brunette at her side. Angela, if memory served.
"That's the Cullen family," Angela told her, very deliberately not staring over at the makeshift Mt. Olympus, where Bella was sure they were holding court over ambrosia and nectar. "They moved here from Alaska about a year and a half ago. The little one is Alice, she's really sweet and helps Ms. Nieves out with art projects. She's dating Jasper Hale, the blonde who looks like he's in pain. Apparently, he has really bad social anxiety."
"It must be torture for him to be here," Bella said, empathic to Jasper's plight.
"The two guys are Edward and Emmett, Forks' official first same-sex couple," Angela said, and Bella was glad to hear the sound of pride and support in the girl's voice.
"And the blonde girl?" Bella asked, hoping that her voice sounded nonchalant.
"Ah," Angela said quietly, looking down at the table. "That's Rosalie Hale."
How fitting, she thought before denying it. As if any rose could compare, could even hold the most infinitesimal of candles to how enchanting Rosalie Hale was. Botticelli, the poor Italian, would have wept at seeing this girl's face, and at the loss of such a perfect model for the Nascita di Venere, and jumped for joy at the vision of beauty incarnate sitting with her siblings in a cafeteria in America. She looked up to glance at the goddess across the room, tasting her name once on her tongue.
"Rosalie," she repeated quietly, and was surprised when she looked back at Bella, as if she'd heard her muttered worship at such a great distance. She held Bella's gaze firmly, those amber orbs cold and measuring as they sank deep into Bella's soul, searching. Bella's face flushed scarlet in embarrassment, but she tried turning her lips into a shy smile, hoping that her staring wouldn't be taken as rude, but merely curious. Eventually that haunting gaze softened, and she blessed Bella with the smallest of smiles before turning away.
Bella was entranced with Rosalie Hale, mortified at being caught staring, but oddly enough, ecstatic at being graced with a smile. Something told her that they were so few and far between.
"She isn't the nicest person," Angela offered hesitantly.
"More like she's a stone-cold bitch," some dark-haired guy – Tyler, she thought – butted in from across the table.
Bella looked around her group, waiting for someone to cut in and reprimand the idiot for his words, to say something at all. But no one did. Either the student body was familiar with Tyler's brand of bias, or they were implicit in the harassment and doublespeak against others. It seemed that her earlier ideas, borrowed from M. Sartre, held true after all: Hell is other people.
"Maybe she just doesn't appreciate being stared at like a piece of meat all day," Bella offered coolly, steely gaze locked onto Tyler's proud smirk.
"You're new," he scoffed. "You don't know shit about the Cullens. They're freaks. Brothers and sisters paired up like some weirdo cult. And those two–" he pointed toward Edward and Emmett where they sat, unoffending, at their table, hands still intertwined.
"Those two what?" she demanded, straightening up in her seat. She'd dealt with enough homophobia in Phoenix, both of the covert and overt variety, and by God she would drag Forks into the twenty-first century kicking and screaming if she was forced to.
"Crowley doesn't mean anything by it," Mike Newton piped up quickly. "He's just talking shit."
"No," Bella said flatly, crossing her arms over her chest. "I wanna hear what Tyler has to say. You got something against the gays, Crowley?"
She was wholly aware that an intimidating figure she was not, but for some reason Tyler seemed to wilt under her glare. She felt powerful in that moment, drawing up some kind of righteous indignation that metamorphosized her into a goliath rather than a five-foot-six teenage girl. She basked in it, only for a moment, before focusing once more.
"Well?" she said.
"Don't see what it has to do with you," he sneered. "You some sorta dyke or something, Swan?"
"Yeah," she bit back. "I am. That a problem?"
At that moment, when her awareness snapped back into place, she realized that the surrounding tables had gone completely silent. She felt blood flood her cheeks and neck just under the skin, mortified at having outed herself so blatantly on her first fucking day of school, but Tyler Crowley had rankled her something fierce, was still doing so, and she refused to back down now. She held his gaze firmly, unyielding even as she noticed one of the girls at the table shuffle subtly away from her. Eventually, after what felt like hours, his eyes faltered, and he sniffed as a show of defeat.
"Just keep that shit quiet," he said snidely.
"Then keep your close-minded bigotry to yourself," she retorted. "Leave that shit back in the middle ages where it belongs."
"Whatever," he replied, waving her off and looking away.
She felt the skirmish end abruptly, and at that moment wanted nothing more than to be away from the cafeteria and these people as soon as possible. But she knew that fleeing so soon would mean something to them, that she was accepting his prejudice and running from it, so she finished her lunch placidly, as if nothing had happened. She finished quickly and grabbed her things as she saw other people leaving, discarded her tray at the receptacle, and made to the exit. As she walked, she passed the Cullen table and noticed a majority of their eyes on her. That sense of judgment, however, was absent from their eyes. In fact, they all seemed mightily pleased with her. She didn't have time to look at all of them as she walked, but at Emmett's massive smile and Edward's gleaming eyes, she felt gratitude and acceptance from them. She threw them a wink and a weak grin as she left, hoping to find a quiet corner of the library to cry in before her next class.
A/N: Please R&R! Criticism helps me grow as a writer. Thanks for reading!