Chapter summary: Rosalie just has to stop opening up a little tiny bit and then shutting right down like this. She just has to stop running away. She has to. She just has to. She's only hurting herself when she does that. Well, more than just herself, but ...

"I..." Rosalie looked mortified. "I shouldn't have done that! I shouldn't have ... God!" Then she whispered angrily: "God damn my weak will! God damn me!"

She turned back to the door and opened it quickly.

"Rosalie!" I shouted. "Where are you going!"

"I have to hunt ... I have to ..." she began desperately.

"... run away?" I finished for her.

"What?" She looked like a deer in a hunter's sights, ready to bolt, but rooted to the spot in fear.

"Rosalie, don't. You can't keep running away;" well, actually, she can, but ... "you can run away from me, but you can't run away from yourself. You're only hurting yourself more by doing this."

"No, I have to hu-..." She was in total denial.

"... run away!" I shouted. "Don't, Rosalie." I commanded, then I pleaded: "Don't! For your own sake."

Her desperation faded, but then it became determined. Her nervous energy stilled, and she directed that now focused energy at me.

"Says the girl who runs away," she retorted.

"What?" I asked, sitting up, confused at the sudden inexplicable turn of the tables.

"Okay," she said, now angry. "Okay, I run away; fine. But by running away, I don't kill you. What do you accomplish by running away?"

"Rosalie, I'm not running away anywhere, I'm right here." I answered as reasonably as I could.

She was so, so beautiful when she was angry like this (or when she smiles or when she did ... well, anything), but she really needed to start making sense. I shook my head as I used the table to pull myself up from the floor. I didn't quite trust my body to stay erect, so I kind of leaned against the table a little bit?

Rosalie examined weak-little me contemptuously, and fired off her next shot.

"Did you have something to tell me this morning, o brave little girl?" she asked coldly.

I looked away quickly. Oh, yeah ... that. Her shot felt like a direct hit.

"Running away, are we?" she was now relentless, turning from a trapped deer to the wolf pouncing at the deer's neck. I guess that made me the deer now.

I couldn't look at her.

She snorted dismissively at me. "Well, I'm going hunting now to keep you alive while you go run to hide from yourself some more." Then she added curtly: "Goodbye!"

"KILL ME RIGHT NOW!" I hollered.

There was a pause, then Rosalie asked quietly: "What?" Her question was filled with a rage so powerful that I had to look right at her.

And I did, filled with my own fury: "I said, 'Kill me right now!'"

"You had better explain yourself," Rosalie commanded as she closed the door and crossed her arms.

"What did you just say as you were running away?" I demanded fiercely.

"I told you I would hunt while you would ..." she began just as hotly.

"What was the last word you said!" I screamed.

She glared at me. "I said, 'goodbye.'"

"What does that word mean!" I demanded. But I saw that she knew what it meant.

"Goodbye," she said, "means 'God be with ye.'" But her crossed arms didn't give an inch off her anger.

"Yes!" I shouted. "'God be with me' because you won't anymore!" I said. "Just like when you ..." I swallowed hard as I waved at those cursed mirrors.

"I came back, girl," she said quietly now. "I came back. It doesn't mean that, it is just a salutation, that's all, it doesn't mean ..."

"Either it means something, or it doesn't." I said, beyond being placated. "You know that better than I do, Rosalie Hale!"

"I'm not going to do that to you," she said, ignoring my outpouring of anger, still trying to reason with me. "I won't ..."

"Then don't!" I shouted. "Don't run away now, and don't you ever, ever, say that word to me, ever again!"

She opened her mouth to say something.

But I cut in, still furious: "I want you to kill me before I hear that word from you! D'ya hear me?"

Rosalie dropped her arms, and looked at me so pityingly. "Are you so far gone as that?"

Yes, I answered in my mind sorrowfully as my glare remained furious. I didn't even bother to think 'I love you.' I couldn't. I couldn't think what I didn't deserve. I couldn't think what would never be accepted nor returned to me.

She crossed the cabin to stand in front of me. She looked at me and then reached out toward my shoulders, but, in mid-gesture, thought better of it and dropped her arms to her sides.

"I'll stay, okay?" she looked into my furious eyes with her own now black, now concerned, eyes.

I reached out with my hands to her shoulders, grasped them and tried to give her a shake as I snarled: "Good!"

She was immovable, of course. Marble statue and all that ...

... whose shoulders I was holding.

I felt suddenly embarrassed at our proximity and at my touching her. See, that's why she didn't touch me, because she didn't want to give me the wrong impression. The impression that she had any feeling for me whatsoever. That's why she said 'I shouldn't have done that' and tried to run away after she tickled me. Because she was just tickling me, that's all, but she saw in my look that I thought it might me something else ... something more than that.

I dropped my hands and looked away.

Then the dam broke. I wailed as I burst into tears.

There I was, standing there, a crybaby, a complete idiot. No wonder why she couldn't stand being around me!

"Did you ..." she asked quietly through my keening "did you wish to finish your supper?"

Her voice was right next to me, but she was very much not touching me. I never felt so distant from her. I just stood there, shaking my head, eyes squeezed shut. I had enough difficulty now keeping the two or three spoons-full down. I couldn't imagine sitting down at the table to sit across from the image of her and eat that soup she made for me.

"Come on, now, come on; let's get you to bed," she said consolingly.

I collapsed. I didn't have strength anymore to hold myself erect. I was curled into a ball right back on that patch of floor where Rosalie had ... where we had ...

My wails now had a tinge of desperation, and I couldn't stop them from ripping out of my chest. The harder I tried, the harder they forced their way out.

Rosalie gently scooped my convulsing form from the floor. I felt a damp cloth on my face. I felt my teeth being brushed. I was so far gone that Rosalie brushed my teeth for me. Do you know how hard it is to brush somebody's teeth who is wracked by sobs? Apparently, not hard at all for Rosalie. Do I need to add that she did it gently, tenderly, and, although she would vehemently deny it, motherly? I felt myself being deposited on the bed. I felt my daytime clothes being exchanged for nighties. I felt Rosalie being very careful not to have her marbled skin touch mine.

Do you know how hard it is for somebody not to touch your skin when they change you out of blue jeans, your day-time panties and then have them put on your night-time panties before dressing you in pajamas? But Rosalie managed to do that somehow. The message was very clear: I won't even accidentally touch your skin. I felt the covers surrounding me.

"Stay with me," I pleaded through the aftershocks of my disintegration. She didn't want to be with me, I could just feel it in her distance, but I couldn't bear the thought of her leaving.

"I'm right here," a detached voice spoke from then now blackness of the utterly quiet cabin at chair height right by the bed.

"Sleep with me?" I asked and patted on top of the covers next to me on the side of the bed.


"I mean, you say you don't sleep, but stay next to me?"

"No," came the quiet yet firm reply.

"Please?" I begged.

"Does your father sleep in your bed next to you?" Rosalie's question floated accusingly, calmly, detachedly in the darkness.

"When I was a little girl, sometimes I would crawl into bed with Pa, when I was alone or scared." Then I smiled at the memory. "He was a real snorer ... it was comforting, in a way, to listen to him sn-..."

"Are you a little girl still, then?" Rosalie's reasonable question interrupted my happy recollection.

"Yes," I answered. "Yes. I'm a little girl still. I'm scared, Rosalie, I'm lonely and so scared, and I need to feel you right beside me — I need to know now and when I'm sleeping that I'm not alone — or I won't be able to sleep at all."

"I disagree," came the composed denial. "I think you are a big girl now. I think you are stronger than you allow yourself to think. I think you will be able to sleep. I think you do not need one more scary monster in your bed. I think you do not need this scary monster hurting you anymore. I think you will sleep now."

"Please, Rosalie, please. I won't. I really won't. I won't be able to ..."

"I do not know how to convey to you my bewilderment that you turn to succor to the thing that is the positively worst thing for you. Why do you do this?" she asked.

"Because I don't have anything else," but you. Because you are all I have. Because I lov-... then I silenced that undeserved thought.

"Because I've taken all that away from you," she chided.

"I had nothing for you to take away," I answered sadly. I have nothing. I am nothing.

Rosalie sighed. "No," she said decidedly, and my heart broke. "I will not lie next to you. I am right here. You can reach out and touch this chair and feel the weight of me on it and know that I am here."

I knew what she was really saying, however, and my chest ached, because my broken heart couldn't hurt any more than how it did now.

I reached out and grasped the chair leg ... and did not let it go.