I barely got out of my Jeep before I saw Rosalie leaning against her convertible. I'd just gone hunting, and I wasn't really expecting Rose to be waiting for me. I smiled widely at her, like I did every time I saw her, but it dropped as I saw her face. It was somber, withdrawn, and not like my wife.
I walked slowly over, the garage unsteadily fading away as I focused only upon her. I wasn't Jasper, but I could feel the regret and sadness rolling off her in waves. This was new. I slightly wondered if I was dreaming. Because this certainly was not a scene I ever got as I arrived home.
"Rosalie…?" She didn't move as I walked up to her, she didn't even seem to hear my approach as she gripped the wheel well with enough force that it started to crush the metal. "Rose?" I asked carefully, my previous feeling of happiness failing. "Rosalie Hale…"
She started, then turned to me, her beautiful ocher eyes looking like they would be filled with tears if we could cry. "Emmett…" she wailed. Rosalie, tears, and wail had never before been used in the same sentence.
She then collapsed into me, her fingers clutching my shirt tightly as my hands instinctively fastened around her small waist. Her perfect body was shaking with what seemed like grief and I stroked her hair as she crushed against me like her very existence depended on it.
I was more than a little surprised at it all. Not so much on seeing her waiting in the garage, but her reactions. Rosalie very rarely had breakdowns, and they were usually about something trivial. I'd go to comfort her, she'd be sarcastic, and then hug me briefly. I knew—as did she—that we were soulmates, that much was obvious.
But we weren't, I also acknowledged, as emotionally connected as Alice and Jasper, or as compassionate as Carlisle and Esme. We were connected in our own way. And yet this new personality certainly was a change.
"Rosalie, what's wrong?" I asked quietly, kissing her hair.
She shook her head against my chest, her mumbling muffled. I felt my face contort as if I could literally feel her emotions, and I realized then what Jasper experienced. I picked her up swiftly, and ran into the house onto the oversized couch, keeping her curled up in my lap, looking more like a scared little girl than my steadfast and strong Rosalie.
"Emmett, I've done something terrible…" she whispered, her voice hoarse.
I frowned. Rose had a mean streak to her, I knew—reactions to Bella were proof enough—but never had she so outright admitted she was wrong.
"Rosalie. Tell me," I said firmly, wondering what the hell was going on. "Rose, what did you do?"
"Ed—Edward…and Bella…" I had no idea what she was talking about.
I wanted nothing more than to console her unconditionally, but something about her tone chilled me. Especially when Bella's name was mentioned—a taboo subject for the last eight months—and even more so when in conjunction with Edward's. Add Rosalie's remorse in, and it was a recipe for disaster. Which, right now, it seemed it was.
"What about them?" I demanded, wishing I didn't have to be so harsh with her. "Rosalie! What happened?"
She hiccupped at my forcefulness, but moved closer to me anyway. I wasn't sure what to do. "Alice—she saw Bella jump off a cliff…we assumed that…she jumped, Emmett…what was I supposed to do?"
I blanched. Even as klutzy as Bella was, I sincerely doubted she could manage falling off a cliff…unless… "A-And…? Please, oh please tell me she's not…Rosalie, she's not d-dead?"
I couldn't fathom it. Though I'd thought Edward was officially psychotic when he'd first told us of his attraction to her—I'd gone as far to suggest we move him to Biloxi; after all, Alice had "contacts" there (Jasper pummeled me for that one)—she'd quickly warmed her way into my dormant heart. She reminded me so much of my own human sister that I couldn't help but love her. My gut wrenched at the thought of her dying.
Rosalie shook her head, and I exhaled. "No," she said, eyes downcast. "Alice went to Forks to console Charlie, but then Bella came home, and said someone saved her. Alice was wrong, Emmett! I—I called Edward to say…to say that…" She cut off, a million miles away. I was trying to piece it all together, but I couldn't. "Alice is going to Italy."
It took a second to connect the dots, but then I gasped. I stood up abruptly, Rosalie falling gracefully onto the couch. "Oh, Rose, you didn't!" I hissed, realizing what she'd done. "Rose, do you even comprehend the damage this does? Italy? How could you even think for one second that Edward would be okay with this? How could you be okay with this? I knew you hated Bella, but this? To go so far as to literally kill Edward? Goddamn it, Rosalie!"
I was furious now, the anger masking the all-consuming fear and agony that was ripping through me. Edward dying was as bad as Bella dying. And to be killed in that way? Forcefully, by the three most dangerous vampires in all history? And it was all caused by the love of my life. Did that mean I was at fault? Me, as well? That I didn't love her enough or didn't imply that this wasn't okay?
Rosalie looked at me like I was some stranger, a stranger who had screamed at her for the first time ever. I realized that that was probably true. I'd never actually been this angry with her before, not in decades of being together. I felt a pang of remorse, but it was quickly overcome. She looked so fragile on the couch, but at the moment I myself was uncontrollable.
My yelling, however, must have been heard upstairs. Slowly, agonizingly slowly, a figure stepped down the stairs and into the living room where we were now. His steps were even slower than any human's I'd seen, his face so devoid of emotion it was even more sorrowfully painful than I'd experienced. His hair, normally so perfectly mussed was now all over the place, as if his hands had run through it a billion times. His eyes were glazed over, even now that he'd stopped in front of me.
"Emmett…can you please be quiet? I need to…to…"
Jasper didn't have to finish his sentence. I recalled what Rosalie had said: "Alice is going to Italy." I swallowed, most of my fury vanishing. Jasper, I noticed, had his hand clutched practically reverently around a small black cell phone as if it were the Holy Grail. He glanced at the screen again, but there was no message, no incoming call, no voicemail.
"Jasper, I'm sorry." I knew it would not ease his grief in the slightest, but I had to try.
"It—It isn't your fault, Emmett, stop blaming yourself," he said, his face looking as if he hadn't slept in a month, figuratively speaking.
I ignored him and instead brought my brother into a hug, forgetting that Jasper wasn't much for physical contact, unless that person was a four-foot-ten ball of energy. He stiffened noticeably, but then slumped down, unable to support his own weight. It was stranger than Rosalie's admission to see Jasper like this. An ex-Confederate, he'd never shown too much emotion of his own, and had never looked so defeated. He'd always been the strong one.
I wondered how we had come to this. Normally, I was the funny one, the one who made everything lighthearted, diffused the tensest of situations. Jasper was the withdrawn, brooding guy in the background who provided the emotions, and Rosalie was the belle of any moment in time. Roles had now been twisted and turned every which way and somehow we'd ended up switching positions.
I held Jasper slightly away from me, his six-foot-three, one-ninety-pound frame looking so much shorter and smaller than ever before. It made me, at my six-five, look even taller. "Jasper, Alice will come home, you know that, don't you?" I said resolutely. As long as I was playing the family rock part I'd go the whole nine yards.
At the mention of his wife's name, he shuddered, face morphing into one of intense pain. "Emmett—" he whispered. He didn't have any words.
"Jasper Nathen Whitlock, you listen to me," I commanded, my jaw clenched. I was willing myself not to break down. I think even I was in the first stages of shock. "Alice Whitlock is a damn good fighter, a damn good sister, and a damn good wife, and she will come back to us. To you. I'm not giving up my little sister without a battle, I promise you that. She is going to bring Edward back, she's going to bring Bella back, and" I just had an idea, and I gestured to Rosalie "we are going to go help her. You understand? We will help her."
Rosalie hiccupped again, no doubt in alarm as to what I said. I wasn't even sure what I meant. Or how in the world we could aid Alice. It was what, I thought, Jasper needed to hear, though, and I'd say whatever I could to keep him from falling completely to pieces.
"But it's the…it's the Volturi," Jasper whimpered. Whimpered! I never thought I'd see the day. If…no, when…we all got out of this, I guessed I'd never let him live it down. "She's just so small, how can she—how could she leave me here?"
If I knew Alice, there was a very, very good reason she left Jasper. They were joined at the heart, those two, and if they ever separated, there was a perfectly logical explanation. Until then, however, Jasper had to stay put. I knew he'd almost die over it; both he and I were men of action, and, if I had to admit it, Jasper was more so. For him to do nothing, especially in regards to Alice, it would be torture. Pure, unadulterated torture.
"I'm—I'm coming with you," Jasper said, obviously not catching onto my thoughts. He gripped the poor little cellular harder, to the point where I feared its survival. He had a sort of desperate, wild look in his eyes. "I won't leave Alice. I won't."
I understood where he was coming from, even if I didn't necessarily understand just how far he'd go for her. I knew he'd go crazy just waiting, and that he'd probably resent both Rosalie and me for being able to track down Alice, Bella, and Edward, but that was what he would have to do.
"Jasper, you have to stay here," I said, wincing at my words. He snapped his head towards me, looking at me like I was some Union commander. I scrambled to qualify my statement. A homicidal-looking Jasper was not what I wanted to experience. "Listen to me. Carlisle and Esme—are they here?—will be needing you to calm them. You need to calm yourself. And what if Alice calls? You need to be there for that. Jasper, I'm sorry, but you have to stay here."
"THE HELL I DO, EMMETT!" he screamed. I was taken aback, and Rosalie actually flinched visibly. Far as I could remember, Jasper had never yelled at her like this. "I am not sitting back while my soulmate is off to meet her death!"
In an instant, and I thanked the heavens for it, Esme and Carlisle were there, Esme leaning against Jasper's shoulder. Carlisle cast a glance towards Rosalie, but stood against the wall. Jasper was still breathing erratically, despite Esme's stroking of his hair, subconsciously trying to brush it through with her fingers.
"Mother, we have to," I beseeched, praying Esme to see reason. To see that Jasper had to stay, and we had to go. "Please."
I could see her heart breaking—she didn't want to see her children go any more than I honestly wanted to either. But she nodded. At that simple action, Jasper fell to his knees, the crash resounding through the house. His head was in his hands, like Esme's nod was his own death sentence. Rosalie sucked in a stuttered breath.
Immediately, Esme knelt down beside him, holding him in her arms and murmuring to him. She looked at me, indecision in her eyes, but nodded subtly again. She turned back to Jasper, letting him revel in her embrace, and whispered "It'll be all right in the end. My little Jasper…I love you so much. And Alice does too," or something to that effect.
I went over to Rosalie, heaved her to her feet, stared at Carlisle for a moment to get my meaning across, and he ducked his head in resigned admittance. Rosalie and I were gone in an instant, inside the M3 and out of the garage within a second. I internally thanked her that she'd redone the engine to make it go at least a hundred miles per hour faster than it was made.
As soon as we were on an actual road, I ordered Rosalie to call the SEA airport and immediately get two tickets to Florence, which I guesstimated to be the closest place to Volterra. I would go crazy waiting those numerous hours on a passenger plane, but I would do it.
"H-Hello?" Rosalie said shakily into the cell phone. Her voice was faltering. "Yes, I—I'd like tickets to Italy. Two. Florence if poss—Rome? That's all you have? No, that's not okay! I don't have time to spend hours driving! You don't have anything—don't yell at me, lady! I'm the one paying here! You can't just—JFK? What kind of layover are we talking about? Yes. Fine. Whatever. Yes, I want two tickets to JFK connect to Pisa. For when? The next flight you have, what did you think? Three hours from now? Fine. We'll be there. Rosalie Hale and Emmett Cullen. Of course we have passports…yes we have money…yeah, have a good day."
She slammed the phone closed, breaths coming in ragged gasps as she leaned her head onto the dashboard, trying to calm herself. My hands tightened around the steering wheel, but I had to concentrate on not completely obliterating the thing. It was many minutes of tense silence between us, especially with no music to sever it, and the frame of the sportscar soundproof. It was suffocating.
"'We have passports'?" I asked, breaking the silence. "You brought them?"
From underneath her curtain of golden hair, I thought I might have seen a twitch of her lips. "Yes, Em," she said. "I grabbed them before we left. They were on the dining room table from when we needed them to go through Canada to get to Denali, remember?"
Yeah. I remembered. Edward's forcing us to leave wasn't very forgettable. "So…so, er, what did the woman say?"
Rosalie leaned her head back against the leather headrest, looking worse for wear. Three words that hadn't ever been associated with her. "She said there's a flight leaving out of Sea-Tac in three hours to JFK; we'd have a forty-five minute layover and then a connecting flight to Galilei Airport in Florence."
I nodded slowly; I wasn't sure at all if this would work, but we were doing the best we can. We're coming, Alice…Bella…Edward… I thought miserably. I just hope we're not too—
A ringing interrupted my thoughts. It was a ringtone unnoticeable by human hearing; this made it all the easier to pick out when we were getting calls as opposed to the billions of other people on cell phones. Rosalie handed me my Motorola, and without migrating a centimeter from the middle of the lane, I answered it.
"Emmett." So it wasn't an original greeting…I wasn't up for much creativity.
"Emmett, it's me. Jasper." I detected a tone in his voice that I couldn't quite place. All I knew was that it was a little less beaten than the last time I'd heard it. Fractionally.
"Look, we're still a while away from the airport, we'll call you when—" I started, but he interrupted, this time my actual speech rather than thoughts.
"Emmett, Alice called," Jasper reported, his voice cracking on Alice's name.
I was torn between immeasurable relief and apprehension. Was Jasper still sounding like this because something else was wrong? Or was he just trying to come out of his stupor? I couldn't tell. Not even a little bit.
"What did she say?" I asked cautiously. I didn't want to pry when Jasper was in such a volatile condition.
He breathed a heavy sigh. I couldn't even imagine what was going through his mind. "She's already on a plane to Italy. Bella's with her, but she said she can't get a clear reading on Edward. He keeps changing his mind on how he's going to—well, kill himself," Jasper said. It was coarse-sounding, his Southern accent unabridged in his anguish. I almost had to strain myself to understand through the slurs. "Emmett, you have to turn around."
That I wasn't expecting. I frowned into the phone, ignoring Rosalie's questioning glances to me. Jasper was talking so quietly that even with her vampire hearing, she couldn't comprehend what he was saying.
"What?" I asked, surprised. "Why?"
"What do you think Edward would do if you, let alone you and…Rosalie" he spat out her name with malice and my fingers clenched reflexively around the wheel "go try and rescue him? He'll hear your thoughts before you can even see him; he'll know you're covering them, too, no matter what language you try to conceal them in. He'll just commit suicide all the faster, and then no one can save him."
"I hate this, Emmett," Jasper cut me off. Again. "I hate it more than you do. You think I want to be sitting here like some wounded duck, playing phone messenger? I'd much rather be up at thirty-eight thousand feet comforting my wife, but instead I'm collapsed in a chair by both phones. Waiting for her call to hear her voice. Don't even start with me, Emmett. Just turn around. Just do it."
"'Cause Alice told you to," I said, grimacing as my words had an undertone of sardonicism. I braced myself in anticipation for Jasper's rhetoric.
"Yes." he hissed venomously. "Because Alice told me to. If you have a problem with her, you'll take it up with me, understand? But don't go jeopardizing your brother's and sisters' lives because of your pride, got it?"
I realized my argument was vanquished. Even more than I feared a pissed off Jasper, I feared a pissed off Jasper when Alice was mentioned. Much as my competitive side fought against me, I decided not to pursue my sarcastic remarks. I'd have plenty of time for that when everyone returned safe and sound. Like Jasper said, when my brother and my sisters—plural, as he'd so graciously amended—came back alive. So to speak, anyway.
"Okay, Jasper, I hear you," I said peacefully. He seemed to edge away from his hatred towards me a bit. "We'll be back before too long, all right?"
"Yeah…" was all he said before the line went dead. I snapped the phone closed and returned it to the center console.
Checking the mirrors, I quickly pulled off onto the shoulder of the freeway, the expensive tires crunching over gravel and grit. I half-expected Rosalie to wince at her precious rims possibly getting damaged, but she said nothing. The ignition shut off, and the car turned eerily silent.
"Is Jazz okay?"
Rose's voice cut through demurely, and I swiftly twisted my head to look at her oddly. It was the first time—there'd been a lot of those lately—I'd heard her refer to Jasper with the name that was usually reserved for Alice. A kind of term of endearment that I never thought I would see Rose decide to use. She and Jasper had never been best friends, that much was true; she often aggravated him by shooting jabs at Alice's power. As a result, there was always that rift between them.
But looking at her face, which was completely devoid of any sign that she was using it in anything but sincerity (and I knew her expressions pretty well), I chose not to call her on it. "He'll be okay," I said tentatively. "Well…considering. He'll be a hell of a lot better when Alice gets back, but I think just hearing her voice after hearing nothing since she shot off to Forks helped a little. He's still a wreck, though. I think in some ways, her call almost made it worse, just because now he knows she's even closer to going into the lion's den. Before it was just wondering when he'd get her 'I'm alive, honey' call, and now it's trying to figure out when is an okay time to freak out even more because it seems to take too long. So, I guess, when I said 'he'll be okay,' I meant he's nowhere in the realm of being okay at the moment. Esme's going to have a job ahead of her to try and console him."
Rose dropped her head, a cloud of guilt and contrition enveloping her body. "I've made a mess of things, haven't I?"
I actually let out a laugh at the absurdity of her statement. "Just a little!" I scoffed bitingly. I wasn't quite ready to forgive her for this yet. Maybe when it was over, but until then…
"I'll fix this, Em," she vowed, her perfect bottom lip quivering. "I'll do everything in my power to let everyone know—Jazz, Alice, Edward, even B-Bella—that I didn't mean for any of this to happen. I was just trying to get our family back together, Emmett. I-I wasn't thinking. I'm sorry. I am so, so sorry."
Well, that did it. Just hearing her apologize, which she almost literally never did, was enough to make most of my fury fade away. Not all of it, of course, but some. I still knew she had a lot of repenting in her immediate future, most of all to Jasper. After all, as she very well knew, it was her fault he could lose his one true love at any minute. Not to mention Esme and Carlisle could lose three of their children.
Wordlessly, I held out my hands to her, sighing resignedly. She looked at me first in confusion, then in embarrassed gratitude. As graceful as always, she climbed out of her seat and into my lap, her hands cool upon either side of my face, my hands securely around her. She pressed a kiss to my lips, her touch burning as it always did.
"I love you, Emmett," she said solemnly. "I don't think I say that enough."
I gave her a half-smile as I kissed her forehead. "You could never say it enough, Rosalie. But I love you, too."
She looked both incredulous and grateful as she fell against my chest. I cast a glance through the sunroof and up at the dark gray clouds, knowing that somewhere up there Alice and Bella were flying to their Judgments. Even as I held the cause of their danger in my arms, I still sent my concerned hope their way.
It would be okay, I felt deep down…none of our lives were meant to end yet, if they even ever were. I may not be apprised of everything, but that much I did know.
Well, I hope I wrote Emmett okay, and that Rosalie wasn't too out of character. I think it was okay, though; I mean, we've only ever seen the mean side of her, and so her in utter shock could (hopefully) be like this. And I wanted a different side to Emmett, more than the joking one we always see. That, and the fact there's only like one other fic about Italy with Emmett's POV. I also know that Rosalie's and Emmett's first encounter after the botched phone call was different in Stephenie's outtakes, but I figured this fit a little better for me. Oh yeah, disclaimer: I'm not Stephenie Meyer, obviously. Don't sue me, please.
Note: Just so you know, I have not abandoned my other stories. This was simply a plot bunny come to attack me, and hopefully make way for new inspiration on my other fics. If you all have any suggestions for those, or requests for stories you'd want me to write or beta, I'd be happy to do so. I am simply in a…remission period of sorts, I guess you could say. But I really am trying to get them out. Honestly.
Anyway, now that that's out of the way and this is a super long Author's Note, I hope you enjoyed this, and I hope you all are having a wonderful time with whatever you're up to.
P.S. I love Jasper. : ) I just do.
Okay, I'm done now.