Chapter summary: You know, Rosalie's all, like, ya know, Rosalie, but she's really nice once you get to know her. What she needs is a guy to laugh with her instead of fight with her. A guy like me. That is, if I were a guy. Man! Her voice sure tastes good!
I woke totally disoriented, the only thing certain I knew was that I was lying down in bed and that Rosalie was on top of me. My head was tilted back, and I was captured in her embrace. Her cold lips were pressed to mine, her scent was on my tongue, and her cold air was inflating my lungs. This was a much better dream.
I opened my eyes to find black ones regarding mine. Then I realized I wasn't dreaming; I couldn't have dreamed those eyes so perfectly.
Those perfect eyes were hungry.
I didn't care. I was the happiest girl in the world. Rosalie had saved me! And if the price of saving me was me, then I would gladly pay it. I felt like Nathan Hale: I'd regret only being able to give just one life of mine to her. Anything other than that monstrous, hateful, irresistible call of my last dream. No. Not anything. Rosalie. Just Rosalie. My savior. Again.
I would be willing to pay any price, dream any nightmare, die any death to be revived like this. Well, if I could skip the nightmares and dying parts, that would be fine with me, too.
"Rosalie!" I breathed past her lips pushed to mine. I now knew what her signing of her lips and mine meant from before, it wasn't a kiss ... it wasn't just a kiss ... it was the kiss of life. Rosalie wasn't Death; Rosalie was giving me life. Rosalie was Life. Rosalie was my life. I wrapped my arms around her. I wanted hold her and show that no-thing what forever really meant in that hug.
At the sound of my voice, Rosalie disengaged herself from me and raced to the other side of the cabin.
I couldn't stand the distance between us now. I propped myself up one elbow, looking at her imploringly.
"Rosalie, it's okay; I don't care! You can take me. Take my blood. You don't have to drink that dung and vomit anymore! You saved me. You can ..."
Rosalie cut me off. She was shaking her head rapidly from side to side, pressing herself against the wall. She looked trapped, cornered, ... hunted. By me. That thought would have been hilarious if it didn't hurt so much.
Was I aware what I was doing? Yes. I was offering myself to her. I was willing to die for her right now — that is, I was telling her to kill me. I knew this. Would I have any regrets? No. Not one. I was already dead to the rest of the world: missing persons were never found, and we were hidden extraordinarily well, I was sure of that, so my entire world was here. I could either give myself to that thing of the dream or to Rosalie. The choice was obvious. Perhaps, as she took me, I would have time to tell her just one thing, even through the pain. But perhaps I wouldn't have time, but that didn't matter right now. What mattered was that Rosalie had saved me — saved my life and saved me from that dream, and right now, saving me from that dream was oh! so much sweeter than the relatively minor fact that she had also saved my life yet again — my heart overflowed with joy and gratitude.
"No! Rosalie, listen!" I began, but that's as far as I got.
Stupid me. Remember the girl who needed to whisper past the inflamed throat? That should have been me. It wasn't. The one who was coughing, pressing her hand to her temple and writhing in agony on top of the bed? Three guesses which girl that was right now. Hint: it wasn't Rosalie.
So Rosalie moved from her position and did come back, and Rosalie did hold me, lifting me into a sitting position and propping me up, but the wracking pain — everywhere! — reduced my victory quite a bit. And her head was pressed against my left temple, not my right. That didn't help much with the pain exploding behind my eyes so powerfully that stars actually obscured a good part of my vision.
"Make it go away. Oh! please! make it go away. It hurts so much. Please. Oh! It hurts!" I was completely reduced to uttering senseless interjections.
Rosalie held me tightly through my convulsions and my coughing fit. Her teeth could have very easily sunk into my neck or my shoulder. They didn't.
Of course, she wasn't breathing.
Although I thought that it would never happen, the coughing eventually subsided. The pain did, too. A little bit. It didn't throb. It just sat there, behind my temple, behind my eyes; waiting. Waiting to pounce again.
She held me. I whimpered, then drew a careful breath.
"Ouch?" I said. I was going for funny. My comment wasn't funny, however. It was pitiful, but I was much worse. Much, much worse.
I regretted that she hadn't taken me. The pain I was experiencing now was due to an ill-equiped and poorly prepared trip to the outhouse ... well, toward the outhouse. That's a nice headline: "Girl dies looking for potty!" At least the pain from her would serve some purpose, at least the pain would be from her. I could take comfort in suffering if I knew it was for Rosalie, and it was because of Rosalie. That would give the pain some meaning for me. Pain from and for Rosalie would have worth and value, and I would gladly pay that price now. That horrible, wretched, awful! dream had showed me that much.
Rosalie eventually pulled back, still holding me, but at arm's length. She examined my face, opening her mouth wide and pointing toward mine. I obliged. She looked inside and frowned. I would frown, too, looking down my throat. I could tell I was a mess from the back of my mouth all the way down to my stomach from that tickly, prickly, scratchy, painful feeling just pulsating there. I bet I looked awfully red in there. Red as blood.
She made sure I was secure in my sitting position and pulled out a tee from the dwindling supply and returned to me. I felt the tee I was wearing; surreptitiously, I hoped. It was soaked through. I noticed it reeked of sweat. Ugh! What a sight I must be! She held up one finger in front of my face. What did that mean? Wait? Wait for what? One? One what? One tee? I couldn't guess.
She put both hands at the neckline of the tee I was wearing, and shifted her hands to my right shoulder. Suddenly, the tee was ripped from that point on my neckline all the way down the right sleeve. She repeated the process for the left side, and then she grabbed the neckline right in front of me.
Rip when the tee, and I was fully exposed to her. She had me entirely compromised. All I could do was look into her eyes and trust myself to her completely. I was, after all, willing to hand my life over to her. I had just made that offer a minute ago. This was something less than that, I reasoned, wasn't it? But I was also handing her my trust and my virtue, so I knew it was also something much more than just my life.
Her hand reached behind my neck, leaning my head forward onto her shoulder, almost hugging me. The movement felt businesslike — not really impersonal, but also not aggressive — but I wondered briefly, at that moment, what she would do. I felt the pull of wet cloth over my skin as she removed the rag which was my old tee and heard a slight wet thump from near the stove. A fresh tee was over my head the very next instant as my head came to rest against the wall where the bed rested. I pushed my arms through the sleeves and breathed in the smell of fresh, clean tee. And of stinky, sweaty Bella. Oh, well, at least the tee was clean.
I looked over to the stove. There was quite the collection of rags there. I recognized shreds of what used to be the bed sheet. Moral of the story: don't strangle Bella unless you wish to be shredded by Rosalie. I had my very own personal — vindictive — guardian vampire.
You hear that, you stupid dream?
She felt my panties between my legs, and I jumped a bit at that. But then I realized she was checking my pad. A little warning would have been nice ... But how to convey that non-verbally? Touch her own crotch and the point at me? The interpretations on that, just after stripping me of my tee, ... um, yeah, well. She pointed toward the door and raised her eyebrow.
"Um, no, I'm fine. I don't need to go now." My voice, even as a whisper, sounded so out of place in the otherwise silent cabin.
I hated my period. I hated it. It rendered her mute, and I so wanted to hear her voice. I didn't care anymore if it involved hours of verbal fencing. She had just saved me, again. Was it after midnight? So did this count on yesterday's tally, or did we start a new one each day? You know what kind of tally I'm talking about, right? The "Number of times Rosalie's saved Bella" tally.
I wanted to hear what my vampire kidnapper savior thought and felt in her own words, from her own musical voice. I wanted to hear her angry shouts and listen to her condescension and deal with her bossy orders and ...
Well, okay, maybe I didn't want to hear so much of those things ...
But I also remembered her gaily dancing about me in the forest singing of her freedom and her excited tumult of words at the idea of inviting me for supper. When she was happy, the whole world was blown away by her happiness. And I wanted to feel that confusing euphoria again.
Hey, wait a minute! Vampires don't eat supper. She had invited me as dinner at the Hale residence. That little sneak!
Well, I still liked her, even though she had wanted me for supper back then. Besides, dinner was on me tonight anyway. Har, har!
While I was thinking these thoughts, Rosalie unceremoniously ripped my panties along with the pad right off my ... well, you know. "HEY!" I screeched.
When would I ever learn? I was wracked by a fresh round of coughs, and Rosalie held me, thankfully after flicking the soaking wet panties and rather full pad onto the rag pile. As I suffered through the new round of agony, I couldn't help but think that she was holding me together through my spasm with nothing between us except my tee and her clothes.
Her denim pants were rather abrasive. We would have to get rid of those for the next spasm.
Um, nevermind that last thought? I didn't mean it that way, and please don't tell Rosalie, okay?
Incidentally, it is amazing what you can think through an agonizing bout of pain ... that's right: I blame the spasms, and I'll swear to that in court, too, if you press charges.
When the coughs subsided, Rosalie extracted a new pad and panties, and I grumbled a "warn a girl next time!" in her direction. She ignored me. This forcefully reminded me that although she was always saving me, she wasn't particularly nice about it. Well, that's something we could work on, her bedside manner. She wanted to learn something about herself, well, then, there was a little nugget. Always good to have a self-improvement project going. Mine was improving Rosalie. I had a to-do list (item #1: bedside manner). Her self-improvement project was to clear items off the to-do list.
What? I think it's a great idea.
I hope she was done with her fussing over me.
Nope. But the worst had to be over, right? She tucked me under the blanket, stoked the fire with a couple of logs, and then started loading the rags into the fire. She laid the pad aside, however. Ewww. I wondered why, but then, thinking about my blood on there and her being a vampire, I kind of blocked all lines of inquiry in that direction. Taking blood from my neck was one thing, but ...
I wasn't going to go there. Still amn't.
She extinguished all the candles in the cabin ... all two of them, so then I couldn't see anything at all. But I heard a sound of liquid being poured into a cup. Rosalie sat beside me on the bed, and handed me the cup. I sniffed it tentatively. It smelled sweet.
"What's this?" I ask warily.
She lifted the cup, and my attached hand, incidentally, to my lips. Well, okay, then, I tilted the cup, but Rosalie stopped me and tilted it for me, much more slowly. Liquid trickled into my mouth.
Wow! What was that? It was slightly more viscous than water. Its strongest taste was that of honey. That was a very strong taste, but was followed by a subtle licorice taste and — what was that spice you used on eggnog for Christmas? Not cinnamon, but the other one? Yeah, that one — whatever you call it.
But then it coated my tongue and stung it, and my tongue went numb in my mouth.
And then it went down my throat like molten lava, coating my throat, and my throat went numb.
"Wow!" I exclaimed. Where had I tasted this before? I hadn't. But what was familiar about it? I thought about that, but drew a blank.
I took a larger sip, and Rosalie took the cup away from me.
"Hey!" I exclaimed. I'm a walking exclamation point!
She handed me a different cup. I sniffed. Nothing. I touched my tongue in the liquid. It ... tasted like water, I guess ... I took a gulp. Water. I drank about half the cup when Rosalie switched cups on me again. I sniffed. It was the honey drink.
While I was drinking the water, I noticed my cheeks were starting to get numb. I paid that no mind, and took a big gulp from the cup I had in hand. That was okay.
Until I swallowed it.
My eyes teared up, and Rosalie rescued the cup from my hand that was going to pound it down onto the bed. My other hand balled into a fist, and it was repeatedly hammering on the bed, and I was saying things I'd rather not see printed.
I couldn't see it, but I could almost feel the smile coming from Rosalie. She handed me the cup, again. I took a very, very small sip.
It was water.
That little cheater! Man, I was going to get her for this. Handing me water, like that, pretending it was that potent honey drink. What was she thinking? I took a few pulls, and finished off the water.
"Hey!" What did I tell you about my exclamations? "I can't feel my cheeks!"
It was the neatest thing. I raised my hand to the cheeks in question and touched them. Nothing. I pressed hard. Still nothing. I tapped them with my open palm.
A whole lotta nothing going on.
So I smacked myself really hard. Nothing. I went to try that again when a cold hand grabbed my wrist, pulling it down to my side.
So I tried the other hand, hard, on the other cheek. Another cold hand grabbed that hand, forcing it down.
"Jeez! What's your problem, Rosalie? I like the taste of your voice. Gimme some more, huh?" I had identified the drink. Honey? Stinging? She had somehow distilled the very essence of her voice and poured it into a cup for me to drink. The taste on my tongue when she revived me should have been an obvious cue. In retrospect, I couldn't believed I missed it.
That's why she wasn't talking so much these days. I got her all figured out now. I tell you what! But how come my voice didn't sound all pretty like hers does? I pouted.
I saw her look at the cup and then look at me. I could just imagine that silly quizzical look she got on her face. I started giggling.
"You know what your problem is, Rosalie?" I didn't wait for an answer ... unless she was handing me that cup.
... Nope. Oh, well.
"You're like everybody, but in reverse, you know? You're all like, 'Ooh! I'm bad; I'm scary; I'm mean.' But you're like really nice, ya know? And you just don't want anybody to know that. Yeah, but everybody's like: 'I've got a sense of humor!' But they really don't. See, you're really funny, but you're like: 'Oh! I'm not funny!' And all that. That's what your problem is Rosalie. Uh-huh. Yeah. You've got to take some time off and smell the ... well ... smell the roses, geddit? Am I right, or am I right?"
She didn't respond; she was being, like, all that.
"'Course I'm right. Now, get off those stupid jeans and put on some PJs, you need a good night's rest."
She didn't move, she just looked at me.
"C'mon! It's hotter'n Hell in here after you stoked that already blazing fire. I need to cool down, and you need a break, so get moving there, Miss Bossy-pants, chop-chop!" Sometimes she just needed to be told what to do for her own good. She needed, like, a manager, or something.
She still wasn't paying attention. Gah! Did I need to do everything myself? I uncovered myself and hopped out of bed to get some more PJs, but then the room twisted hard to the left, and I overcompensated. I was on a crash course to giving a big bear hug to the stove. Hm, this is going to hurt.
Rosalie grabbed me, of course.
"What's with you! I can walk across the room if it's not moving all over the place!"
She started bringing me back to the bed. "Nothing doing: I'm getting your PJs!" What was so hard to understand about that? She set me on the bed, anyway, holding out her hand. "PJs." I reminded her. She nodded. Good! I didn't want to get rough with her. My head hit the pillow and my feet flew up and landed on the bed. I did all that without practicing. Yup, I'm that good.
Rosalie sat on the bed. I checked her legs. Cotton, not denim. Good. I pulled on her arm. No movement. I tugged again. Nothing. Boy, was she dense!
"You don't rest by sitting on a bed, Rosalie, and I don't get cooler with a fire turning this place into a sauna. Now, lie down!"
She did lie down on her back — get the lady a diploma! — arms stiffly held to her sides. What about the word "relax" was so difficult a concept for her to grasp?
"Arm," I commanded, "please?" I added as an afterthought. Couldn't hurt too much to be nice. I hadn't coughed this whole time, and my throat did feel much better.
She extended her arm, and I grabbed it, wrapping it under my neck. Very nice! I nuzzled my head into her armpit. My feet were moving up and down her leg, moving the soft cotton out of the way so they could rub against the cool marble of her calves. Blessed, blessed coolness! I rested my right temple against her chest and felt the coolness of her bosom bleed through her shirt and into the heat and pain centralized behind my temple. Thankfully, she wasn't wearing a brassiere under her PJ top; that would have blocked the delicious cold too much.
"Ahhhhh!" I would have liked to rip off her shirt to apply more concentrated coolness to my aching head, but I think she would've taken that the wrong way.
What? She ripped off my shirt ... and my panties, fer crying out loud! ... I had a valid medical reason, but I wasn't getting all 'let's rend some clothes!' like she had.
But then she shifted away. "Hey! Quit squirming!" I had worked really hard to get her all comfy and me, too, and she had go and do this? I rearranged myself so that I was on my side, facing her, and my right temple rested on the part of her chest near where her upper arm joined the shoulder. You can look up that body part. I locked her into place by draping my left arm over her rib cage. No more squirming away for her. Nosiree.
The coolness felt very, very nice in this little inferno hut.
"Whew, thanks. This feels very good!" I rubbed my whole body against hers in appreciation, the soles of my feet rubbed up and down her calves, sucking all the coolness they could from her. Bliss!
I started to drift off, drinking in the scent that, if anything, smelt better than the distillation of her voice, but then a thought occurred to me.
"That guy you were supposed to marry, whatizname? Ronald? No. Roy, right? Roy King? I bet he was a wiry guy like Edward, right?" She looked at me. I had my eyes closed, but I could feel her head turn.
"What a stupid name! 'Hey, my name's Roy King.' Fer crying out loud, 'Roy' means 'King'! How dumb can you get? And he was 'the Second'? He's a second fiddle King-King? Jeez!"
"See, but that's your problem, right? I bet your parents hooked you up with bad-ole Roy, right? Am I right? And Dr. Hale, he hooked you up with Edward, right? You and Edward! That's a train wreck waiting to happen! He's all proud and serious and intellectual, and you're all proud and serious and intellectual, right? I bet you two were like two cats in a bag, right? Am I right, or am I right?"
I couldn't see in the dark, so I reached up my left hand to feel her lips. "Yup." I said. Her lips were smiling. I was right. Of course I was right! I returned my arm to her rib cage, but either my arm was too heavy now or her, okay, her breasts, okay? her breasts, fer crying out loud! were bigger than I thought, so my arm, like, accidentally brushed against them. But I didn't try to make a big deal out of it, okay? So sue me already!
Incidentally to nothing, if she's perfect, is there, like, a word that means more perfect than that? Just wondering fer no reason whatsoever and thanks fer not even ASKING!
"See, that's the problem. You got other people hooking you up on their agendas. But you are actually in serious need of a guy ... okay, now hear me out first, Rosalie, before you get all, you know, Rosalie on me. You don't need a Roy guy or an Edward guy. Those guys are like, you know, total jerks for you. Hmmmmm."
I breathed in her scent. It was concentrated heaven. I might have drifted off for a second there, but I was onto something.
"No, you need like a guy, well, a vamp guy, K? A guy who can clear a bar if some other guy looks at you funny, you know?"
"But not a tough guy guy guy guy guy. Whoa there! No you need a guy, like, sweet on you, so when you get all, like, Rosalie on him or anybody else, he'll be like, 'Aw, ain't she cute!' instead of like all, like, Edward on you, you know?"
"I got it! You need a big-ole teddy bear of a guy! Have I totally figured it out, or what? Right? You need a big strong guy you can lean on when you want to, but won't get all in your hair when you need the space, you know? You know, someone who'll laugh at your jokes, but he has to be smart and attentive enough to recognize you're joking and not being all, like, Rosalie. You know, like a guy who gets you like I get you, right? A guy who sees that you're really nice, like I see you're really nice? A guy who thinks you're the most beautiful person in the world, but like still has a brain, but isn't a jerk about it, and manages to keep the drool in his mouth, right? Or who maybe can't when you want to, like, you know, ... well, nevermind. That's the kind of guy I'm talking about, right? You know, like a big, hulking, manly teddy bear version of me, see?"
I finally got how to make her happy!
"And who better to hook you up this time? Definitely not you! Sorry, but you just pick the wrong guys: pretty, persnickety boys, right? All catty, you know: the ones who would be gay if they weren't, right? Like you are sometimes. Jeez! You can be so sensitive sometimes, Rosalie, really! I mean, c'mon! Yeah, so, nah, you shouldn't pick the guy; you need somebody to hook you up who knows you and who knows what's best for you. Somebody who doesn't have a 'marry my son' hidden agenda, right? That'd be me! Am I right? No, you know I'm right!" She winced a bit at my last declaration — Gosh! What? Like, are her ears, like, made out of, I don't know, sensitive stuff or something? — but my epiphany was obvious. This was such a no-brainer!
"Don't you worry about a thing, Rosalie; I got this one. I'll hook you up!"
I had done my good deed for the day. Moreover, I had a really good juicy project on which to work. I was so pleased! I breathed in her scent and nuzzled her companionably and fell straight into a contented sleep, safely wrapping and wrapped in the arms of my guardian vampire.
A/N: Emmett as a male version of Bella? An obvious conclusion in light of this chapter, as Rosalie and Edward are of a piece. And, as Bella says here, incidentally to nothing my admiration of Emmett is boundless. He is the strongest character in the Twilight series, but I'm not talking about physical strength. That he is constantly untroubled by Rosalie, that he actually enjoys her company, that he delights in her tantrums and hissy fits? That he lets her be her all the while not being stepped on by her or hiding behind or under her skirt?
You know that Emmett is as smart as all the other Cullens and Hales. How come you never hear about it? It's because he doesn't measure his worth by his intellect. If I was one tenth the man Emmett is, I'd be twice the man I am now. I think the world needs more big tough teddy bear guys that like to laugh and only have eyes for their own girl.
But that's just me.
If you're gonna get all, like, ya know, Rosalie on me for this note, please send flames to /dev/null. kthxbai!