Rosalie pulled her attention from Lucas, memories instantly crashing into her. That night it had been dark. She'd been coming from a friend's house. She wondered if she was still surprised when first Royce grabbed her, tearing off the clothes she so loved, hurting her even before she fell. Though she'd initially experienced more than Bella had, having no one to save her until finally all she had was her life, she knew it didn't really make much difference. Being violated is being violated. She wondered, if she'd lived, how she might react to what had happened. Would she nightmare as Bella was? Would she long for the end? There was no way to know. Carlisle changing her had locked in and magnified the bitterness she could not seem to escape without Bella. The thought of Bella trying to make him change her made her ill on a brand new level. Bella didn't know. Could never know. The pain, the unrelenting agony. Of simply knowing not whom-but what you are. She wondered too, if Bella was turned, if she would seek out her monsters as she had done. Rose wondered if she would stop her, or help her.
She saw Natalie sitting there in the crumpled car, shaking and trying to control her breathe. Before she understood why, Rosalie was marching up to her, furious but trying to control herself.
"You're Alice's sister?" Natalie choked out after a moment.
"And you're that animal's sister?"
Natalie lowered her gaze. "I knew he'd done something... But I didn't... I wasn't sure-"
"Perhaps you'd care to start from the beginning?" This was harder than she'd thought. Rosalie had to ball her hands into fists in order to maintain what little control she had. Natalie had an odd, fearful as ever look.
"He's always been wild. My father's tried to disown him but he keeps coming back. He's given up by now..." Her auburn hair looked dark in the fading light. She took a shuddering breath, fidgeting with her hands, her clothes. "The school called saying that he and some of his friends got expelled for hurting someone. They wouldn't say who or what happened. When we tried to ask Luke ourselves he'd just get violent. Sometimes my dad would protect me. Sometimes he'd just leave." A sorrow Rosalie knew only too well passed over Natalie's face and for an instant she pitied the human. "One day, a few weeks I think later, we were driving back from a movie-Luke, me, some other people. He took another road, one closer to the woods. Anyway, he must have seen someone inside the house he recognized because he got really angry. He got out and went around the back, at first I thought just to smoke.
'Whose house is this?' I asked.
'Just some bitch. Come on,' and he flung his cigarette to the side"
Rosalie's stomach churned.
"By the time we were down the road the house was completely engulfed in flames." Natalie buried her face in her hands, sobbing.
No, Rose thought. It was a candle. Bella fell asleep with a candle lit... she didn't blow out the match...
"Today when I saw Alice going into the woods I was driving with Luke and some of his friends. I asked them to pull over. They were pretty drunk and let me out. Alice and I talked for a while until she-Bella-called." Natalie cringed at her name. "I wasn't sure it was her that they'd hurt until I saw their car at the gas station, then when Alice brought her home. I was so worried that I had to leave. I just went home. I just felt so guilty..."
Rosalie raised a hand to quiet her for a moment. She was having some difficulty absorbing this. She knew she couldn't blame everything on Natalie. She was scared. With a brother like that who wouldn't be? Who knew the horrors she'd seen. And yet, Rosalie couldn't help but hate her. She found she'd never hated someone so much in her entire life. More than Luke, or Royce, or anyone. It was the fear in her she hated. The hesitation. It was one thing to be a monster like their attackers, but another entirely to let the monsters get away.
Alice was by her side, looking paler than her usual bone white complexion. Rosalie turned to her, not sure what to say or think of anything. The question hung mutually in the air.
"What do we do now?"
Rosalie let Alice fall into her, supporting her small frame. They embraced for a few minutes, which felt like hours. Rosalie ran a hand through her 'sister's' hair, wishing more than ever that all of this was just a bad nightmare. But the only way to wake up was action. She had to do something, and the numbness of shock was beginning to ware off. She remembered Lucas in his bleeding, crooked form, the long bangs slapped across his face. He-who was practically a child to her-couldn't have possibly caused so much strife. Those weak limbs, that twisted mind. But he had. She remembered him from that day after school, when the three of them had keyed her convertible. How offended and defensive Bella had been, and the cruelty and provocation that had been so evident in their manors. Without realizing it, she'd pulled away from Alice and was standing once again over him. She gave him a kick-gentle for her-in the side, trying to detect life. But after a moment his gnarled breathing became audible, his heart croaking unsteadily. She turned him so he was facing straight up at her, crouched over him. From the car she could hear Natalie asking Alice what she would do. What will I do? she wondered herself. She was not as blind with anger at she'd once been. She knew that killing him would not bring her the satisfaction it had with Royce. Not that she wouldn't enjoy seeing the little worm suffer, because of course she would. But it wasn't what was best for Bella, and that came first. If she killed them now, they would certainty be investigated, all of the Cullens. And Bella. Now that the crime was known, the three vanishing without a trace would raise some questions. Even if Charlie sided with them and tried to protect them, his badge alone would not be enough. The best thing to do would be to hand him in. She'd be getting her lover justice. Surely she could do that?
But try as she might, she could not get passed her wandering imagination. Bella had told her in detail enough what had happened, but having gone through something similar Rosalie couldn't help but amplify things to their worst degree. Not that it was hard to do. Things were already so repulsive. All she could see was Bella carrying her groceries out to that charmingly beat up truck unsuspectingly, hoping to be with her soon. In her arms. But others-this boy's- had taken her instead. God-she couldn't get the image of him over her out of her head. His fist falling to her over and over. Her precious blood flowing from the welts on her body, legs ties with a cheap belt. Before she knew it, her own fist was connecting with Luke's body, blood spraying her now and again. She was beginning to rethink her plan-maybe they could get away with murder-when Alice's arms pulled her back.
Rose let herself slam into the hard planks of the bridge.
"I know-it's so hard. I almost killed him too... but we can't. We can't." She kept saying it over and over, as if it would make things easier. As if it would tell them what they could do. They were lusting for revenge, for themselves and for Bella. But they had to force themselves to put those thoughts aside.
"I want him to apologize," came a loud voice from behind them. They turned to find Natalie, furious as they. "I don't care what you do with him. Arrest him, kill him. But I want him to tell her-Bella-that he's sorry."
Her tone was bold. It got the vampires' attention.
"He won't mean it. He's as vicious as they come... but I at least want her to know-from me too."
"It won't do any good," Rosalie snapped. "She doesn't give a damn what he thinks."
Alice placed a hand on her back though, and Rosalie couldn't help but soften a little.
"I'll pass the word along, Natalie," Alice told her, not really able to look at her anymore. What they had had been exciting and maybe even promising, but it had ended before it had even begun. She'd never look at her the same.
"No-" Natalie insisted, a little to their annoyance. "I want him to tell her to her face, and then she can choose what is done to him."
"She isn't exactly in a place where she can hear apologies," Rosalie said coldly. "Thanks to him."
Alice looked deathly worried.
Rosalie whispered,"When Carlisle brought her home she was bleeding openly from the jagged cut in her neck. It didn't look like she'd be waking up anytime soon."
Slowly, they began to regroup. They called Charlie for a heads up to let him know they were coming, but he insisted on picking them up. Three squad cars, including his, blazed up the road, sirens crying. Charlie didn't even close his door or turn off the engine before speeding out. He had his gun out, but no one was worried. No one would have blamed him if he'd used it. However, upon seeing the state the kid was in, all he could do was stare. He hated to do it, but he called for an ambulance. Rosalie actually found herself admiring him for that. Putting aside his strongest prejudice to do what he knew was right. It was more than she could have done. Another officer took Natalie in for questioning where she told them everything. She herself didn't get in trouble, but her father did. He got off easily in Alice's opinion. Charlie let Alice and Rose go, though neither of them felt strong enough to tell him about Bella just yet-if ever.
Two down. One to go.
A few weeks later, they found Spencer in Oregon. Apparently he'd heard what had happened to his buddies and decided to run for it. Unlike the others, he admitted to everything, giving an accurate story which matched Bella's. He didn't get any less time for it, but still you could recognize that the kid at least had a little decency. Either that or he was just scared shitless. There was a trial, but Carlisle's lawyer friends pulled through. Since Bella was still recovering from her seemingly 'suicide attempt' which was brought on from stress of the attack, she was not expected to show up to testify. Emmett, however, proved extremely helpful by giving his account in court. Jasper volunteered to accompany him for "moral support," though really it was so he could better sway the court's ruling. Edward was very handy as well. Rosalie was worried that her and Bella's relationship would be questioned, but it was never brought up. The record only said that they were friends. She suspected Charlie had some influence there, though he never showed that he knew anything while around her or his daughter. The three of them got twenty years, and Carlisle's lawyers were working on more. All in all, it was resolved in a little over a year.
Bella went back to school. She'd be graduating that year. The couple already had plans for the upcoming summer. Alice didn't seem to be too upset with Natalie, though they never resumed where they'd left off. She kept her eyes open though, and Rosalie hoped that she'd soon find someone just as dear as Bella was to her.
"Do you regret it?" Bella asked one afternoon at their apartment. They had the tall windows open in their bedroom, laying lazily across the soft bed.
"What dear?" Rosalie asked, stroking Bella's ginger hair.
"Meeting me. Not turning back when we were almost to the concert but almost got in a car crash."
Rosalie remembered their first date and smiled.
"Your ignorance was cute then too," she laughed, tugging Bella up and into her arms. The cut at her throat was a mere scar now, just a bad memory. Their foreheads met as a stillness they often shared curled up beside them. Their eyes were closed, and neither of them could find a single thing out of place. Rosalie's hands, the hands Bella trusted without a second thought, had her supported so effortlessly. Bella's arms were warm and gentle around her shoulders. Sometimes they'd stay like this for an our or so, until Bella had to do something human like eat of rest. Rosalie never tired of taking care of her, practically thrived on it. And gradually Bella found nothing else would do. There was something special, something new that was forming between them. They both felt it more and more as their two entities began to blur into one, passionately whole being. Their bodies would always be separate, they would of course have it no other way, but their essences, their souls if you will, began to softly merge into a feeling of such enlightenment, such happiness and understanding. It was hard to put into words, though on several early morning walks or long car drives they would try. Rosalie remembered something Bella had told her before their lives had taken such a downward turn. They'd been at Bella's house, the one that now lay in ashes, making love in the clear blue and gold morning.
"You are my world."
Rosalie understood those words then, and they had touched her deeply. But now she seemed able to peer inside them, touch every fiber of meaning they offered. There was no question in her mind. They would always be. To lose one of them would be to lose themselves. She had grasped the meaning of eternity for a while now, but never forever. Not in this way. She suddenly felt as if it wouldn't be enough. That even if she turned Bella, they would never have enough time. But she knew that love didn't need time. Time was not involved at all. Not at this intense of a degree. It was simply being. Right now. Here, in this moment, time could not touch them. With Bella, time seemed like a joke. How it had ever mattered to her before she couldn't understand.
Memories are only trinkets in a box when you have now. When you have her.
A/N: Though this would be a good stopping place I admit, I promised you happier times after the bad. Triptych will continue. I'd like to think I'm just getting started really. I don't have the rest mapped out from this point on so if there's something you'd like to see happen, please suggest it. I'm veering away from the original Triptych, not having the AliBellaRose pairing anymore. I hope you don't mind the story going on without having much to do with the title. But I suppose the major conflict is over. If there is another, it will not be as heavy as it has been. There's lots more I am planning on doing, but please offer suggestions. Thank you so much for reading and kindly reviewing. You mean the world to me!