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Antithesis, Part 1
If Edward and Bella's story is a story of love found, what would it look like to have lost your heart's perfect match? How would it break you and leave you shattered into pieces in what remains of your life? "Antithesis" takes place at the end of "Twilight" as Bella recovers from her injuries, and is a story of love lost. Edward knows someone who is living his worst nightmare.
I sat next to Edward, surrounded by his family, and blinked as reality hit me once again. Every once in a while I tried to have this reality check. I stepped outside of the situation for a moment and tried to think of the past two weeks in an objective manner, and – as long as you didn't think about it too hard – it was all quite simple.
If you're going to have your leg broken by a vampire who stalks you to Phoenix Arizona and tries to kill you and your boyfriend for a thrill, make sure you have a vampire doctor who doesn't mind making house calls… in his own home.
I looked down to hide the ironic smirk before I could be questioned about it, glad for the millionth time that Edward couldn't read my mind.
There was a sudden knock at the door that made everyone stare, frozen for a moment, then they turned in unison to all look the same question at Alice. I could see that very same question on her own face.
Who was it, and why hadn't she known they were coming?
It was my first time out of Charlie's house since we returned from Phoenix. My crutches were on the floor at my side, but I never had to use them when Edward was near.
Carlisle looked across the room at us. Specifically, he was looking at Edward. I looked up into Edward's face and saw the same tension in his eyes as Alice's.
Who could be out there? How could they be invisible to both Edward and Alice?
The knock at the door returned in the staccato of shave-and-a-haircut.
A playful mysterious threat?
"You guys know you suck at hiding out in a house with glass walls, right?" asked a sardonic voice.
"Rolle?" Esme whispered.
No one moved. I looked around the room at the Cullen family not understanding the sudden chill in the air. Carlisle went to the door as Edward angled himself in front of me.
The door swung open and Carlisle stepped back to allow the visitor in. He could have been Jasper's twin brother: tall, blonde, well-proportioned. His face was more angular than Jasper's and even though he was smiling it never reached his eyes.
"Hiya, Doc," came the slow greeting. There was something warm but sad in his voice.
"Hello, Rolle," Carlisle responded in kind.
Rolle took a half-step to Carlisle and embraced him fondly.
His gaze went to Esme next and his smile warmed again -- almost touching his eyes though not quite -- as he went past Carlisle and took her hands.
"Welcome back, Rolle dear," she said, her voice lightly colored by the tension she was trying to hide. Rolle stepped toward her and kissed her on one cheek, then the other.
"Rolle," Emmett greeted next with a wide smile.
Rolle released Esme and clasped Emmett's hand in an arm-wrestler's grip. They leaned forward and bumped shoulders.
"Rose," Rolle whispered next, taking one of Rosalie's hands in both of his. He raised it to his lips and pressed a kiss to her fingers.
Jasper came forward next and reached for Rolle's hand. As they shook hands, their other hands came up to grasp each other's arms above the wrist.
Edward moved to block me from view again. Now I was totally confused. Their greetings were warm and cordial, so why was there so much tension in the air?
I leaned further around Edward to watch the stranger's behavior. Rolle seemed to have a different way of greeting each of them. As I tried to watch, Emmett suddenly stepped in my line of view. I tried to look around him as well, and realized Esme was also now standing in the way. I was disappointed to hear Rolle say, 'Hey, Squirt,' to Alice and not know what her unique greeting was.
As I began to wonder how he would greet Edward I realized the Cullen's had all moved to shield me from their guest.
Apparently, Rolle noticed this as well.
"What's going on?" he asked, puzzled. "Why are... " His voice trailed off as he stepped across the room and saw me gazing curiously back at him.
Now that he was closer I could see his differences more clearly. His shape and stature was like Jasper, but everything else about him was paler. Where Jasper's hair was blonde, Rolle's was a platinum blonde. Even his eyes were paler. The Cullen's eyes were gold, but Rolle's were more silver than gold.
He looked at me.
"Hello," he said.
"Rolle," Edward warned him, stepping between us again, blocking me from Rolle's view.
"Edward," Rolle said slowly, confused. "What's going on?"
I heard Carlisle answer, though I couldn't see either of them now.
"We're a little on edge here, Rolle. I'm sorry."
"We had a run-in with another tracker," Carlisle told him. "Our friend was attacked and hurt."
Another tracker? Was Rolle a tracker, too?
Though I could not see him again, I felt the tension in the air ratchet up another notch. When Rolle spoke again, the sadness in his voice was gone.
"Who?" he growled. There was anger there now; anger and something else. Something that almost sounded… protective?
"His name was James," Edward answered.
There was a pause and I craned around in my seat to see what was going on. I finally caught sight of Rolle, this time between Emmett and Jasper's shoulders. Rolle's face was dark. He tipped his head as he regarded the Cullens.
"Yeah," Emmett said. "As in past-tense."
As Rolle scanned the faces of the Cullens lined up against him, the change on his face was immediate. The tension in his body relaxed and was replaced with discomfort. He lowered his eyes and turned away.
"I-I'm sorry. I should have..." He strode quickly to the door. "I shouldn't have come."
And as quickly as he'd arrived, he was gone.
Esme turned to Edward. "Don't let him go like that," she told him, but Edward didn't move. "Edward, he's your friend. You have to explain to him..."
He seemed to debate with himself for a moment. Then Edward turned to me and found my fingers, giving them a little squeeze.
"Stay with her," he told his family, and slid between them to find Rolle outside.
I looked around hoping someone would explain to me what was going on. They were casting guilty glances at each other. Alice walked toward me, reaching out to squeeze Jasper's hand as she passed him.
"Who was that?" I asked in a whisper when she plopped onto the sofa next to me.
Alice frowned, then sighed, then sighed again. "Rolle."
"I kinda figured that. You know, what with all the hi's and hello's."
"He's a friend of Edward's," she told me. "They met in Chicago a long time ago."
The concept shouldn't have seemed as strange as I found it. Edward had been a vampire for ninety years. He must have had other friends outside of his family and the clan in Alaska.
"Why did everybody act that way toward him? It seemed like you all knew him. Is he dangerous?"
"We're all dangerous, Bella," she said, but she wouldn't meet my eyes. She glanced at me and looked away again. "Rolle is a tracker. More than a tracker, he's an assassin."
I blinked. "A vampire assassin? Isn't that redundant?"
Alice laughed nervously. "Yeah, I guess it is. But he's actually a professional."
I had to take a moment to process that. "Edward's friend is an assassin? How does that happen?" I couldn't imagine Edward willingly making friends with a professional killer, vampire or otherwise.
"It's not like they exchanged business cards," Alice said as if this was an apology. "Edward was at a Blue's festival in Chicago and heard Rolle playing piano. He said he was brilliant, a real prodigy. They got to talking about music..."
"A musical assassin?" I muttered looking out the window into the dark yard beyond. I couldn't see them out there.
"He's something different when he plays," Alice explained. "Like different sides of a coin. It's the only time he escapes from hell."
"What?" What did she mean by that? Escaped from hell?
But Alice couldn't explain. Edward appeared at the door again, dragging a mostly reluctant assassin back into the foyer. Rolle lurched forward a step at a time as Edward pulled him by his left elbow arguing with him.
"I'm sorry, I'm sorry," Rolle complained feebly.
"No, stop, we're sorry," Edward insisted. "We were just taken by surprise with your visit. Nobody expected you, not even Alice or myself."
Even as Edward said the words he suddenly understood what he was saying.
"How did you get here without our seeing or hearing you?" was finally Edward's perplexed question.
Rolle shrugged, unable to look at any of the Cullens. The floor alone had his undivided attention.
Edward's expression changed suddenly from confusion to sympathy and I knew he alone had heard an answer that we could not.
"Rolle," he sighed softly, shaking his head in sympathy.
Without acknowledging Edward's attempts to reach him, Rolle dragged a glance at me from the floor then looked away quickly as if he would be punished for noticing me.
Still trying to reach him, Edward tried to introduce us. "This is Bella."
Rolle looked up quickly to Edward, to me, and back to Edward. "She's human," he whispered.
Edward shrugged and smiled my crooked smile. "Yes."
"She's part of our family, Rolle," Esme said.
"She's very important to us," Carlisle added.
"And she's good for a laugh now and then," Emmett teased, tossing a genuine smile over his shoulder at me.
But Rolle was still gaping at Edward in awe. His brow came together as he moved closer to examine Edward, searching for something.
The next thing Rolle said proved that he'd found it.
"You love her."
Edward met my eyes a moment, then looked back at Rolle who was still openly appraising him in an intense and obvious way.
"No," Rolle whispered. "More than that..." His voice trailed off.
Rolle turned slowly and stared directly at me. His odd silver eyes – odd even for a vampire -- were wide with some enormous understanding.
"Your match." He looked at Edward again. "The other half. Here. You found her.... here."
Edward was beginning to look uncomfortable and stepped toward me, putting himself between me and Rolle once again.
This time Rolle was quicker to realize the movement.
"And you're afraid of me, for her," he muttered as his eyes met mine over Edward's shoulder.
I felt like he was burning my image into his mind with that stare. Even I could feel the tension building up in the room again, and I wasn't even a vampire. Everyone leapt up when Rolle suddenly grabbed Edward by his collar. The room filled with snarls and hisses, but Rolle's voice boomed over it all.
"Don't you ever put her at risk like that! Don't ever let anything happen to her! Never forget how quick you can lose everything!" he shouted, shaking Edward by his shoulders. "Everything you are is nothing without her!"
Jasper leapt across the room and tackled Rolle. They crashed through a glass wall and onto the porch, and everything went silent. I didn't know if Rolle's craziness had spent itself or if Jasper had used his calming influence to quiet him.
Edward still stood unmoving where he was as everyone rushed forward. Alice slid her arm around my waist and helped me across the floor. When I was close enough, Edward took over. His face was stunned and unseeing. I put my hand on his face, pulling his gaze to meet mine.
"Are you all right?" he asked me.
"Me? Are you all right?" I repeated.
He nodded absently as he looked over at the chaos on the porch. I followed his gaze and was surprised by what I saw.
Jasper was kneeling beside Rolle, holding his shoulders as he rocked him and comforted him. The assassin had his hair clutched in his hands as if he could pull off his own head. Esme was on Rolle's other side rubbing his back.
I was suddenly and very definitely angry at all of them. This maniac attacked Edward and they were soothing him??
And then I heard Rolle sob.
It was the single most horrible sound I have ever heard from anyone. It echoed low from somewhere deep inside him. Tears came inexplicable to my eyes. He collapsed further in on himself. It was like watching plastic melt in a fire. I'd never seen anyone in pain like this before.
It terrified me.
"Don't, don't," Rolle argued feebly, trying to push away their comforting arms. "I don't... I can't... You don't under..." His voice broke each time. "You don't know... why I'm... stuck... here."
He took several gulping breaths and found the strength to pull their arms from him. When Esme tried to reach for him again, he held up his hand to stop her, flinching away.
He took another deep breath and raised his head a fraction in our direction. "I'm sorry, Edward." His voice was steadier. "I never told you. I can't think about it. I go crazy to think about it."
But Rolle did think about it, and Edward heard him. He staggered and suddenly it was my arms holding him up.
As Edward's knees gave out from under him, we both would have crashed to the floor if Emmett hadn't caught us.
"I'll give everything to protect what you have," Rolle was still saying. "I swear it."