Disclaimer: Stephenie Meyer owns Twilight, and therefore my literary soul as well.
Songs referenced are intended to set the tone for their respective chapters. No infringement intended. They can all be found on YouTube and in my profile, once I'm clever enough to figure that out (and yes, I know, some kinda suck. :P).
This entire story is dedicated to my drunk, fanfic-crazed, penniless, eccentric, Mexican, doppelganger cheerleader (or DFCPEMDC, for short – I just call her Fer), without whom I would never have had the metaphorical testicular fortitude to go ahead and even try writing this.
Mad props and thanks to my friend and beta, plovesh. (It's not Russian.)
Italicized lines are thoughts; italicized quotes are coming from the TV announcer… but I hope that's obvious at some point.
Here we go…
You've gotta go and be a hero
I've got a new game for all you boys
It's a war without a choice
Just try and make it home
- "Compulsory Hero", 1927
Another group of "young, upstanding Americans" called on to die.
More dead strangers.
This country's getting empty…
Oh my… Thank God I'm a woman.
The previously deafening silence was shattered by a heart wrenching scream as my best friend lost her everything.
"Rosie, baby, it'll be okay," Emmett tried to console her. "I'm tough, we both know that. Everything will be fine."
From the look on his face, he was trying to convince himself as much as his girlfriend.
"No, Emmett! Everything will not be fine!" Rosalie shouted, her voice cracking through her sobs. "Nothing will be fine, and you know it!"
If any of us knew just how not fine things would be, it was Rosalie. She'd already been through this once before, already watched someone she loved march off to fight in a war she didn't believe in.
As if it weren't enough she'd had to bite her tongue and watch her twin brother, Jasper, willingly enlist and go off to fight; now she had to let Uncle Sam drag the love of her young life into battle. And those of us who cared about her had to watch her crumble in the process - again.
I sat, stunned, on the floor of our apartment as Rosalie stormed off into her bedroom, tears streaming down her heartbroken face. Emmett slowly rose from his spot on the couch, doing his best to look neutral and normal, and made his way to the slammed-shut door to Rosalie's room.
"Rosie… honey… please. Calm down and come out here."
Silence from beyond the door.
"Rosie? I know you're scared – I'm scared. Just come back out and sit with me."
A weak sniffle, muffled by the wood.
I got up and slowly approached the door.
"Let me try," I whispered to Emmett. "Rose? Think about this, Rose. Staying in there won't keep him here. All staying in there will do is upset you more when he has to leave and you haven't said goodbye."
"I'm not saying goodbye." The door unlocked with a soft click. "He's not leaving me." Slowly, tentatively, Rosalie opened the door and stepped back out into the living room. Her crystal blue eyes were clouded and glistening with the pain she was trying to hold back; her honey blonde hair was a shiny, disheveled mess. The usual almost unearthly beauty of her face was distorted in sorrow and stained with salt water agony. It made my heart ache just to look at her – I couldn't even pretend to imagine how she was feeling.
"Never, Rosie," Emmett declared, pulling her to him. She sobbed into his chest as he stroked her hair in the only gesture of comfort he could think to offer. He hid it better than Rosalie could ever hope to, but I could see he was hurting as badly as she was. He looked terrified and pensive at the same time. A more determined look swept its way over his face as he gripped Rosalie's shoulders and held her out at arm's length and looked her square in her eyes.
"Rosie, I love you," Emmett began, but Rose wasted no time in cutting him off.
"I know you do, Em. I love you too."
"I know, babe… but I wasn't finished."
He gently placed his pointer finger on Rose's lips, effectively silencing her.
"Would you shut your pretty mouth for a minute so I can talk?" he asked with a sad chuckle.
Rose tried to argue, but her protest was completely incomprehensible with Emmett's meaty finger sealing most of her lips. Frustrated, she gave up talking and nodded once.
"What I was trying to say," Emmett began again, laughing softly before his mood turned slightly darker, "is that I love you, Rose… but I have to go. I have to. I can't run from this. You know that. But I will come back to you. I will always come back to you."
Tears began to stream down Rosalie's face again as she realized the truth in Emmett's words. There was no escaping this. The only thing worse than being sent to fight was being known as a draft dodger, and Emmett would never stand for it. Truth be told, he probably would have been excited to go fight if he hadn't had Rosalie.
"I can't talk about this anymore," Rosalie mumbled through her tears.
Emmett pulled her to his chest and hugged her so tight I wondered if she could still breathe.
"Then we won't talk about it, babe. At all."
"And in news from Vietnam tonight… several American troops are de—." I flew over to the television and quickly clicked it off to keep the news from further upsetting Rosalie.
As the room was again plunged into silence, I heard a muffled "thank you, Bella".
"Any time, Rose. I think I'm gonna go get a glass of water" – I was feeling intrusive, standing there, observing Rose and Emmett's misery like a pathetic peeping tom – "Want me to get you one too?"
"No. No water. We're going out."
"We are?" Emmett and I stammered in confused stereo.
"Yes. We are. We're celebrating Emmett being here and safe and not thinking about him being… We're just going out, okay?"
Rose was losing it, I could tell. She was trying hard to put her "strong face" back on. It wasn't working, but I would never tell her that. If she wanted to go out, we would go out. I would do whatever it took to make my friend even momentarily happy again. And Emmett wasn't about to turn her down either. Not when his motto for the past three years had been "What Rosie wants, Rosie gets". I used to think his motto spoiled her, but now I was just glad we all knew it meant he wouldn't refuse her request.
Twenty minutes later, Rose had worked whatever miracles she did to make her look like a goddess and we were all headed out. To anyone else, she would've looked just as happy as she'd been before those stupid dates were called. But as I watched her surreptitiously stuff her purse full of Kleenex, I knew she was anything but.
I couldn't help myself. I walked deliberately over to her and wrapped my arms around her in what I hoped was a friendly, loving gesture.
"It'll be alright, Rose. You heard Emmett. He'll come back. And he's right – he's tough as nails. It'd take a hell of a lot more than some stupid Charlie to take him down."
I stopped my hugging and stood beside her, holding her hand.
"I mean, c'mon. He's a damn tank!" I said, smiling cheerfully and nudging her side with my elbow.
Rose let out a slightly sad chuckle, smiled at me and said "Thanks, Bella. You're right. Besides, it'd be hard for them to even catch him–"
"Catch who?" Emmett interrupted with a curious glint in his eye.
For the first time in nearly an hour, Rose smiled a genuinely happy smile. A smile that reached her eyes, lit up her face, and glowed with absolute love and devotion.
"My monkey man," she said, stretching up on her tip toes to kiss Emmett softly on the lips.
He let out a bellow of a laugh, clearly thrilled to see his girlfriend being even a tiny hint of her normal self.
"You know I love when you call me that," Emmett laughed as he grabbed Rose by the waist and threw her over his shoulder. She giggled and squealed and kicked her legs, pretending to fight him off. Her faux fight only spurred him on. He bent his knees slightly and scrambled around the room, free arm swinging goofily at his side, making the most ridiculous monkey noises.
"Uhm… Tarzan? Jane? Weren't we on our way out?" I asked.
It wasn't that their silly little games weren't amusing – they were downright endearing, and I loved watching my two closest friends be so happy and free and in love. It was just… Well, honestly, it was just a little depressing. While Rose was agonizing over the fact that her brother and her boyfriend could potentially return to her in boxes, I was just the tiniest bit jealous that she even had reason to be in agony. Not that I would ever wish the draft or war on anyone. God no, never. I just wanted someone I could care about as much as Rose cared about Emmett, or even Jasper. Sometimes, being an only child whose two best friends are in love can be very lonely. Sometimes, it absolutely sucks.
But now was not the time to be down. It wasn't the time to let my loneliness overtake me. Now was the time to stand up and be the happy, cheerful, non-blood-related sister that Rosalie needed. And I was more than up to that challenge.
"Yes we were!" Rose giggled. "Put me down, Monkey Man! I want to go to dinner."
"What Rosie wants, Rosie gets."
I wasn't kidding when I said it was his motto.
"Well, Rosie wants dinner, drinks, and dancing, so let's go!"
And with that, we were off for a night of fun before letting the sad reality of our lives, and the lives of too many people our own age, sink back in.
A/N: Okay, so, this is my first feeble attempt at writing something since I was in the fourth grade – which was a REALLY long time ago – so it's decidedly not the best thing you've ever read. But, you're reading it, and that is blowing my mind as you read! Seriously. Thanks for even checking it out. If you liked it, let me know. Hale, if you hated it and want to tell me I shouldn't quit my currently non-existent day job, let me know that too. Go a little easy on me though – I don't have it in me to handle haters and flames with the grace of some of my favorite fic authors.
For the record, I know my facts are probably a bit skewed in this. I did a little bit of research and made sure all those dates actually WERE called in that order during the 1969 US draft. If you don't believe me, check it out. I'll put the link to where I found them on my profile. And I also know that's not quite how you found out you were leaving, but it doesn't make much sense for my story the way it DID go. So, yeah – I know things aren't spot on. Call it poetic license. My BA is in Spanish, not History – cut me some slack. :)