A/N: This outtake was commissioned by the absolutely fabulous lucette21 who won me in the most recent Fandom Gives Back. She's long been requesting this outtake. She has graciously agreed to share it.
In the first full Rabbit Hole chapter, Edward mentioned that he and Emmett once dressed up in goth until they got in trouble and had to stop.
This outtake chronicles that period in their lives. It's bittersweet for sure.
All my love to hmonster4 for beta'ing, and daisy3853 for a pre-read/catching all my dumb errors.
Though the idea came to me a few weeks prior, in the end, it all happened rather spontaneously.
We moved at the end of the school year, just after the last of us graduated high school. It was a natural transition. Everyone's emotions were mixed. It was always that way when we moved. On one hand, moving meant leaving behind routines and houses. On the other, new towns brought new hope.
Esme would take one final walk through her lavish gardens and then turn her eye toward the possibilities that availed her in the next house. Rosalie and Emmett just had another wedding, and Alice was disappointed we moved before she had her chance. But then she realized she didn't really have anyone to invite anyway. So, she grew excited at the prospect of finding a friend in the new town, someone other than her family. She was determined to find a way to fit in this time.
I didn't care.
Not even a little. The last town was the same as the one before it, and I expected this one wouldn't be any different. They all melted into each other at some point, and eventually, my memories meshed as well, until it was all one giant experience. Few teachers or classmates stood out. I didn't learn anything new. I rarely talked to anyone outside of my family other than required class projects. So, there was nothing to distinguish one high school from the next except school colors and the types of cars students drove.
I was hoping the next round in this game would occur in a major city. There, our story could be altered significantly. We could all live separately if we wanted, or we could buy a damn condo building and each have an apartment. It might at least increase the illusion of privacy while still staying close. I was hoping I might attend a music conservatory or start another college degree. It wasn't much of a dream, but it had to be better than enrolling in high school yet again.
Unfortunately, my arguments held no weight. It came down to a few simple facts. First, by and large, the women in my family preferred the social environment of one house, one family, one story. Second, the women in my family were highly influential when it came to their significant others. Third, I didn't have a woman. I was always odd man out when it came to decision making. Fourth, Carlisle felt we called less attention to ourselves if we didn't attempt to accomplish much.
"You would stand out too much in a conservatory, Edward," he argued.
So I would have to smile and nod, or more appropriately shrug and skulk, but regardless, I would go to whatever godforsaken town my family chose. I would attend whichever high school they enrolled me in. I would do that for a couple of specific reasons, not the least of which was that I loved my family without condition or exception. I might have resented their partnerships, their optimism for our way of life. I may have butted heads with each of them on some issue at one time or another, but I didn't have a strong desire to live without them anymore.
Further, I had come to see my imprisonment in the most mundane aspect of human society as exactly that, a punishment for the years in which I had chosen to play God. Carlisle and Esme welcomed me back all those years ago without hesitation. They forgave, but none of us ever forgot. My guilt was the only thing I carried that ever felt heavy. Repenting was not enough. I deserved to rot in Introduction to Literature for the rest of my life, listening to barely graduated neophytes attempt to teach the masses culture. It was my purgatory and my hell combined.
I told Carlisle I had one stipulation - I wanted to have a part time job. He was suspicious of my reasoning. They tended to treat me with kid gloves at times, as if my wanting to do things without them somehow meant I was ready to run. I explained that I did sometimes need time away from the house, and occasionally, I liked to feel useful. He couldn't argue against that.
Although, I'm not sure that working the late shift at the local convenience store was exactly serving society, my choices in occupation were limited. When you claim to be sixteen and moving from out of state, it's not as if you're going to be wearing a suit and tie to work.
Emmett laughed so hard he literally doubled over. Even Rose couldn't bite back a smile.
"So, Mr. Sunshine is going to be in customer service? Doesn't Carlisle give you a big enough allowance?"
I didn't have an appropriate comeback because anything I could say would be turned around against me. I tried to explain my thoughts on the matter. I'd read countless theoretical books that talked about how people gained satisfaction from a job well done, how there was a crisis of identity in U.S. culture as jobs turned more white collar and high tech because you could no longer see the finished product at the end of the day. Work was good for humans; it was worth a try for me.
Rosalie scoffed and reminded me it was stupid to play human.
Emmett told me to go for a hunt.
Esme suggested a new hobby.
I just wanted something to do.
In the end, I decided who better to man the counter at a convenience store than a vampire. I didn't need sleep. Potential thieves would be incredibly surprised if they pulled a gun on me. In the first few weeks of my job, I spent hours fantasizing about the best way to crush their dreams. Would I use my speed to come at them from behind, completely disarming them? Or would I use my strength to twist their guns into pretzels? Would I even go so far as to let them shoot me, just to see their reaction when it had little impact?
Fortunately or unfortunately, I didn't have any opportunities to put my plans in motion. The worst I dealt with were fourteen year old brats who stood by the slushy machine taking the one free refill policy much too far. Or younger kids who tried to walk off with candy bars stuffed in their pockets. I was named employee of the week shortly after I started because my loss ratio was the lowest ever. Mind reading was a useful skill. Knowing someone's intention is a great way to prevent the crime.
I stood by would-be shoplifters, pretending to "face" the aisle. I called out to multiple re-fill folks asking if they needed any help.
I also developed something of a fan club. The slushie machine boys had a group of girls who followed them to the store every evening. They giggled, and oohed and aahed when the boys revealed their latest video game scores. Within a short time, the girls started arriving earlier than the boys. They stopped asking the boys about their RPG's; instead, they hung by the counter, batting eyelashes and licking lollipops suggestively.
"So you new around here?" a blond who had not yet hit puberty asked, her mouth covered in dark red lipstick, half of which now remained on the straw of her drink, so that the middle of her lips was a shade lighter than the edges.
"Yes," I said.
"Really? Will you, like, be going to school here and everything?"
"Yes." I turned around to rearrange the lotto display and send a not so subtle hint, but they didn't get it.
Like a pinball machine, their thoughts lit up with the potential.
"I wonder if he'll need help with homework," thought one. "I'll offer when school starts."
Another looked at both her friends. "He'd have to pick me. They don't stand a chance."
"People always tell me I'm funny. I'm going to come in earlier, before my friends get here, and tell him jokes."
Each one thought if they just hung out here long enough, they could walk into the first day of school with fresh older boy meat on their arm. Later that night, I created a few large "No Loitering" signs and placed them strategically on the front window and near the counter.
"Store policy," I said the next night, and I pointed up at the camera. "I don't want to get in trouble."
Dejected, but not completely out of the hunt, they began to wear more revealing clothing, hoping to make a bigger impact with their reduced time in my presence. I discovered there was little as pathetic as girls with practically concave chests wearing string bikini tops and Daisy Dukes, but when I took the time to really listen to what was going on their heads, I found I was less annoyed and more sympathetic. I'd been privy to their thoughts long enough to know teenage girls were probably the most insecure humans all throughout history. As much as I never wanted to encourage their behavior, I didn't want to add to their self doubt.
I almost told them I was gay, but then I realized they were still lusting after a kid who wore guyliner and carried a man purse who they all thought probably was gay. So that wouldn't have been much of a deterrent.
I decided humans were idiots, and teenage humans were the idiots of the idiots.
I didn't hate them. I was probably more jealous than anything else. Really, they were lucky. This was just one stage in their lives. Eventually, they would grow and mature. These were tremendous attributes from my perspective.
As I worked, I paid more attention not only to the Slushie girls, but to all the humans in the store. I watched them with greater interest this time around, vowing to have more fun, to interact more. I paid attention to their reactions, to what really got them excited. Somewhere in there my plan began to form. In theory, I should instill fear in them just by virtue of being who I was, but I'd spent so many years charming them that while they seemed to instinctually know to avoid me, they didn't even register their own fear. So, of all the emotions I could have explored, it only made sense that their fear would naturally be the one to twist. It took me a while to figure out how to shake things up without causing any real suspicion.
I wasn't the only one struggling with my human/vampire relationships. Jasper was probably the only other one who knew the depth of Alice's desire to play with the big kids so to speak. I always assumed it was her lack of memory of her own teenage years which made her feel so desperate to experience someone else's. In any case, she'd spent years watching the popular kids longingly. She bested them in style, looks, and even knowledge of what was truly hip, but she was still an outsider.
We spent our first few weeks acclimating to the new house and its surroundings.
We always lived near some sort of wooded area, for emergency meals, but we all preferred more remote areas for true sustenance. Over the years, I'd grown to appreciate the relative quiet of the spaces outside of the house, particularly during the school year when my head would buzz with hundreds of voices at once. I became intimately familiar with our local flora and fauna, spending hours enjoying the hum of birds, the cracking of branches, and the crunching of leaves under paws. These simple sounds were a much needed break from the cacophony of whines, lies, secrets, regrets, insecurities, put downs, and one ups I listened to all day long. My family tended to give me a fairly wide berth when I told them I was going for a walk because they knew it was sometimes my only chance to get others' voices outside of my head.
I was surprised, then, one July afternoon when I heard the faint sounds of clapping, followed by a voice I'd know anywhere, shouting, "T-A-K-E, take that ball away."
I realize my laughter was unwarranted, but in my defense, it was a funny to find her standing in the middle of a small clearing wearing an outfit I'd only seen in Jasper's fantasies. The red and white skirt flared as she twirled around to face me.
"I knew you were here, and you didn't have to laugh at me."
I was startled by her verbal assault, but immediately felt guilty for my lack of composure. I got defensive in response.
"Did you expect privacy when you came out here knowing I was already here?"
"You don't get sole claim to the woods, Edward. Sometimes we all want a moment to ourselves."
"Alice?" It was one of those questions meant more as a challenge, for everything in her body language and tone of voice told me she didn't really want to be alone.
She paused, looking down at her shoes. "Fine. I could use some help."
"Well, the thing is …you're the only person I wouldn't be able to hide it from anyway, so why not?"
Involuntarily, my eyebrow arched, and I smirked. "Do you want me to come up with cheers?"
"No, don't be ridiculous," she said, waving a hand in exacerbation. "I want you to help me with control, physical control. I thought maybe if I practiced being light… I don't know. Perhaps if you were feeling kind, you could also let me practice for you."
I know I rolled my eyes, because she looked down sheepishly. These were the kinds of moments when it was clear, no matter how many years we had on this earth, we still held hadn't grown much beyond the maturity of our human counterparts.
"I'm sorry, Alice. Of course, I'll help." I tried hard not to sound bitter or make her feel stupid because ultimately, I didn't begrudge Alice this dream. I understood where it came from even if I thought the desire unhealthy..
"Oh Edward!" She ran toward me at such a force she nearly threw me off balance. Nearly, but not quite. It was easy to see Alice only like this, energetic and overly exuberant. Too optimistic and, perhaps, unnecessarily concerned with shallow endeavors, but it was only one fraction of her character. Like Rosalie could be seen as a bitch, or Emmett as a brute, we all carried something from our human life that defined us no matter how much we thought we'd changed. "You can help me figure out what to say to Carlisle too!"
I groaned at that, but of course, I had to try. We spent many afternoons in that clearing, using both plants and animals to test various pyramid positions and acrobatic moves. In addition to practicing for the audition, she rehearsed the speech she would give Carlisle over and over before she finally felt ready to approach him.
Alice waited until everyone else was out of the house. I was home, so I heard the conversation, but it was something Alice wanted to address on her own.
"Carlisle, I've been meaning to ask you something."
"Of course, come in," Carlisle said when Alice showed up at his office.
"Well, school starts again soon, and I saw a sign when I was registering a couple of weeks ago. They're holding cheerleading tryouts tomorrow. I've been thinking about going."
Carlisle was perhaps the most patient man in history, but his thoughts couldn't hide that he could still grow tired. Again? His internal voice seemed almost annoyed for a second before he composed himself to answer vocally.
"We've had this conversation before, Alice, and you know how I feel."
"Yes, I know, but I've been thinking about it, and I believe my control is excellent. I've always understood my own strength. I just can't envision a scenario where I'd truly do damage to a human."
"You can't because you're biased. The worst things that can happen are often those we cannot imagine because we are too good in our intentions to see the possibility."
He watched her face fall, and he could feel the indignation stirring in her.
"Alice, you do have excellent control, but it's one thing to worry about not breaking a pencil in class and another to cause serious injury to someone. Working in close proximity to humans in a physical sport creates so much uncertainty."
"I could do it without your permission, you know." For a brief second, Alice was every bit the petulant child. It wasn't a role she played often, particularly not with Carlisle, but this issue brought out the worst in her.
"Of course you could. I have never forbidden you to do so. I have merely expressed my serious reservations.
"I know," she said quietly. Her mind was racing. It was something she really wanted, but knowing it would disappoint Carlisle was equally unpleasant. I could see the defiance and obedience battling it out on her face. She wanted to yell and she wanted to cry, but neither seemed appropriate. "Well, I just thought I'd see if your position had changed."
"It has not."
She sighed. "Neither has mine."
"Alice, isn't there another activity? Theatre or band perhaps?"
She shook her head. "I can't explain it."
"Fair enough," he said. "It seems you are leaning toward going, and all I can say is be careful, and of course, 'break a leg.'"
"As long as it's my own and not someone else's," Alice said with a smirk.
"Indeed," Carlisle answered.
On Thursday, Alice donned shorts with the word, "Cheer" stamped across the behind. She wore minimal make up, and a bright blue tank top. If nothing else, she was determined to stand out. She practiced her original cheer over and over in her head. She planned a routine that would showcase both her power and her grace. Her anticipation was driving Jasper so nuts she finally told him he should come back later. Most of all, Alice was confident that, at the end of the day, her vision would be a reality. How could she fail?
I found her several hours later in the woods, sitting on the bank of a narrow creek, her feet dangling in the water.
I approached slowly, but didn't attempt to hide my presence.
"It's okay. You don't have to be quiet," she said.
"I was worried when you didn't come back."
"I didn't hurt anyone," she answered quickly, showcasing a slightly defensive tone.
"I didn't mean that. Besides, Carlisle would have known that." Alice shook her head, not ready to feel any levity in the situation. I changed my tone. "What happened?"
"I couldn't do it."
It would never have occurred to me that nerves would bring her down, so I assumed there was more to it. I waited patiently, leaning up against a tree.
"They were so cute and so young and so full of hope. I chatted with a couple of them. This one freshman girl was a little overweight, and she was so afraid to try out because she thought everyone would laugh at her. I don't know. I just kept thinking of Carlisle's words and all the what ifs, and I couldn't live with myself if I actually did hurt one of them."
"I'm sorry, Alice. That had to be hard."
"Thanks. I'll be okay." She closed her eyes and inhaled unnecessarily.
"Want me to get Jasper?"
"No, I'll be back soon. I just needed a minute, you know?"
"Of course. Do you me to go?"
She looked over toward me, and then her eyes turned back toward the creek. "Not really."
I took a few steps toward where she sat on the bank to join her. Once my legs hit the water, I felt her head fall against my shoulder. I wrapped my arm around her, and we sat like that for a while.
"Sometimes, it's just hard," she said.
Her mind flashed toward a girl with braces. She was cute, in an awkward teenager kind of way. Her smile was tentative at first, revealing a lack of confidence. She carried maybe an extra fifteen pounds, just enough not to look like everyone else, but not enough that you could really say she was a big girl. The way she wore her clothes though it seemed clear she felt big. She began a cheer, one I recognized instantly. She got louder and her smile grew bigger the more she went.
I looked at Alice, and she was smiling as the scene played out in her head, and understanding hit me.
"You gave her your cheer."
"She had a high audition number so there was time. Didn't she look great? I really hope she makes the squad."
"Yes, she did very well." I stood and held my hand out to Alice. She took it happily, and I jokingly pulled with force as if she were heavy. She punched me in the arm, and I pretended to wince in pain. As we walked back toward the house, I said, "You did well today too."
Maybe my actions following were petty and even a little stupid, but it was my way of rebelling I suppose, and I figured it was far healthier than any other way I might prove my point, though I wasn't even sure I could articulate what that point was. I was a little frustrated with Carlisle for not being more supportive or more willing to take risks. Obviously, he was right; he usually was, but in this instance, I felt bad for Alice.
I asked Emmett to go on a hunting trip with me, and that was where we laid the foundation. Needless to say, he required no convincing. I got a simultaneous fist bump and a "Hell yeah." He left the details to me until the morning of the first day of school.
About a half an hour before we were scheduled to leave, he announced casually, "I think I'll ride with Edward today."
Rosalie's head snapped up and she glared at him. "Why?"
"Just a little brotherly bonding." His tone gave nothing away , but his smile was pushing it.
"What are you up to?" She turned to face me. Of course, she would blame me. I shrugged, playing the tortured teenager role to the maximum. She rolled her eyes, shook her head, and with a wave turned and walked out the front door.
Emmett was eager to get into character so to speak.. He watched as the others piled into Rosalie's car and headed down the driveway. Then he turned to me, beaming. "This is going to be too fun. Did you get everything?"
"Hold on," I said putting up a finger. I needed to make sure that Esme was safely tucked away in her garden. She had headphones on, and the only thoughts were of the lyrics to the songs she was mouthing and how she might tame the weeds this year.
"Okay, come on."
I had spread everything out on my bed, and Emmett laughed when he saw it. "Did you buy the whole store?"
"Hardly. You wouldn't believe the things I saw."
"I wish I could get my tongue pierced," Emmett lamented. "I suppose it would close up within an hour."
"Gotcha covered," I said throwing a bag at him. I'd picked up a few fake items, like a fake nose ring. We carried our treasure out the front door without stopping to say goodbye to anyone. We drove the few miles to the convenience store where I worked. They early morning casher nodded toward me but didn't say anything as we made our way to the bathroom.
"So where do we start?" he wondered eyeing the bags we'd set on the counter. "Clothes or makeup?"
"Clothes?" I suggested almost wishing we had help in this process. I'd considered enlisting the aid of one of the girls who hung out behind the convenience store, smoking clove cigarettes, silently staring at some spot, appearing deep in existential though. But then I swore one of them growled at me as I passed and opted to go it alone.
When I reached out to grab the red shirt I'd picked out for me, Emmett gasped. "You did your nails!"
"Uh yeah, I figured they'd need time to dry."
"Damn, I want that."
"Maybe you can paint them on the way to school."
Emmett nodded eagerly, and dove into the other bags looking for what he perceived to be the best combination of clothes.
"I think this is your best idea ever, Edward."
"Or my worst, but either way, it's definitely not boring."
We worked as fast as we could, but neither of us had mastered eye liner and lipstick.
"Maybe we should have asked Alice for help with this," he said. "I can't believe she didn't see this one coming."
"She doesn't see everything, but I was surprised a vision never came. All I know is, if she knows it's coming, she's kept it on lock down."
Emmett eyed the container that held make up designed to make its wearers look lighter. He laughed and put the cover back on, figuring we were white enough we could skip that part.
"Think they'll be pissed?" I knew who he meant without him offering further clarification.
"I don't know. I guess I'm not sure what the big deal is."
"Bullshit. If you didn't think we were facing an uphill battle, we'd be getting ready in the house."
"I suppose you're right. I just didn't feel the need to explain myself," I said as I added more black lipstick. "Are you worried about Rosalie's reaction?"
"Nah. I mean she's going to be pissed, probably because she's not going to want to be seen with me, but she'll get over it. She knows she can't tame me any more than I can put her in a cage, and I've told you before. I wouldn't have it any other way."
I laughed and shook my head.
"Speaking of people you can't tame, have you talked to Tanya lately?"
"No." I had a feeling he already knew the answer, and perhaps, this conversation was one of those that originated somewhere else. "Whose bidding are you doing?"
Emmett shrugged. "We all worry. You know that."
"There's no need. I'm fine."
He stared at me for a second and then shook his head. "You are so not fine, dude."
"Maybe not, but Tanya isn't a part of getting closer to fine."
"You're sure? I mean, Tanya's pretty amazing."
"I never said she wasn't. But amazing and amazing for me are two different things."
"I suppose. All I know is that I can't imagine going through this life without someone by my side, if you know what I mean. You were alone a long time. I mean I have no idea how you abstained for that long. It still gives me the chills. Sometimes I just wonder if you might be a little picky since she was your first and all."
I opened my mouth and closed it quickly. I'd always hated keeping this lie from him, but this was not the time or place to reveal that Tanya had not been my first sexual experience.
"Emmett, why do you love Rosalie?"
"Have you seen her?"
"Dumbass, you love her for more than her looks."
"Yeah, I know. The only answer I can come up with is 'how can I not?'"
"Exactly. Love doesn't seem to be a choice you make. A relationship is, but not love. I've watched too many people try to force the emotion, and it doesn't work very well."
"Fair enough." We worked in silence for a few minutes before he continued. "Have you ever considered going off on your own?"
I raised an eyebrow.
"Not like before. I mean like, to meet some other vampires or something. Seems like your kind of limiting your options here."
"Trying to get rid of me?"
"Maybe a little," he teased. "I was thinking just for a while or something. Just to see what's out there."
"Yes, I'm sure the odds of my finding the perfect vegetarian vampire mate are very high."
"Maybe she's not a vampire, yet."
"Your soul mate." I waited for a follow up snort or a roll of his eyes, but he was dead serious.
"You really think there's that one person out there for everyone?"
"There was for us. And think about it. With Esme and me, we didn't start out like you."
"Well, sure, I'll start slumming with humans to see what I can find," I said, dismissing his idea.
"Whatever, you know what I mean. Just, like, don't assume you'll always be miserable."
We knew the exact moment Alice saw a vision because our phones lit up simultaneously, his with a call from Rosalie, and mine a text from Jasper warning me that "Rose is pissed."
I looked at Emmett, and he shrugged.
"Still up for it?"
"Yup. You know what I always say. Go big or go home!" he said.
We walked into school wearing our characters well. Emmett's size was only emphasized by the threatening spikes coming out of his head and around his neck. I'd checked the school's dress code, and technically, nothing we wore was in direct violation. Still, I wondered if we'd be sent to the principal's office.
He walked with purpose and an attitude that said, "Don't fuck with me." In the movies, people parted high school hallways like Moses and the Red Sea, causing a scampering from side to side. But this was more a slow motion reaction. People were so busy talking, catching up and comparing schedules, that Emmett practically had to bump into them to get them to move. Once they saw him, they literally jumped before running to get out of his way, apologizing profusely for being there in the first place.
Other art freaks - theater geeks and goth kids - took notice instantly. One of them contemplated approaching us, but never worked up the guts. We had something they never had. They'd been stared at and picked on, but they'd never walked the hall with power, never instilled fear. They watched in awe, wondering if Emmett could somehow be their savior. If we really were like them, what would it mean for their social status?
I followed wordlessly, my head mostly down, taking in the voices. The Slushie girls recognized me right away.
"Oh my god, it's the guy from the Stop N Go!" the quiet one who wondered if I needed homework help said. "Holy crap, he looks hot."
Her friends looked at the girl like she had three heads. "Well, I think so anyway."
I turned and winked at her.
Her mouth opened wide, and her hand flew up to cover it.
Emmett was on a high. His thoughts ranged from. This is fucking fantastic to Does leather cause chafing? What he loved most of all was the ability to wield power, something we were usually so cautious about doing. It was different using something other humans were chastised for as a way to feel strong. He could flaunt it more.
I avoided talking to the rest of the family all morning. I got texts from Alice, Jasper, and Emmett.
"What were you thinking?"
"You look good in makeup."
"Shit, Rose is more pissed than I thought. I might be hanging out in your room tonight."
Lunch presented a conundrum. I walked with a herd of people down the hall to the cafeteria. Emmett was right behind me, drawing as much attention as he had earlier in the day. I went through the line, absent mindedly choosing a few items that I would pretend to eat. I hated the schools that didn't have an open campus. I much preferred when we could just go hang out in our cars or run home, thus avoiding this ridiculous charade.
With a tray full of food I'd only waste, I faced a dilemma. Rosalie, Jasper, and Alice sat in a far corner, pushing food around on their plates. Instantly, I knew Rosalie wanted me nowhere near her. She wasn't thinking about me directly, but was rifling through every violent image one could imagine while staring directly at me.
"She won't cause a scene here," Alice thought.
Emmett and I started to walk in their direction when I noticed another table. One filled with kids sporting purple hair, black trench coats, and a macabre menagerie of high heeled boots. A few looked up at me. They weren't the type to smile widely and wave me over, but a slight lean of the head in their direction told me I was welcome to sit there with them. They were almost afraid themselves. Would I consider myself too good for them?
Turning my back on the daggers Rosalie was throwing in my direction and a confused Emmett who stood motionless for a minute before continuing on to our original destination, I sat down at the table with the other goth freaks. There were introductions. Like any lunchroom table, kids talked randomly about their classes, their after school activities, their new playlists. Despite all outward appearances, this table was far more normal than the one were my brothers and sisters sat, saying nothing, seething, and shifting food around on the plate.
I was struck by the irony as kids who thought they were cool talked about their classmates at this table. They jeered. A few wondered what kind of rituals we performed at the end of the day. Some pointed and laughed. Meanwhile, others were throwing glances toward the table of new kids. They commented on how hot Rosalie was. The guys were infatuated. The girls were intimidated. A few thought Alice seemed nice. No one considered that corner table to be the real threat. I was sure if they were asked they would all say the table of kids in black and makeup were the ones more likely to drink blood.
After school, Rosalie immediately attempted to enlist Carlisle's help in putting an end to our insanity.
"What prompted this?" he asked.
"They're morons, that's what!" she said.
"Rosalie, I'm interested to hear what they have to say."
She crossed her arms, huffed, and waited.
"It was just an idea, and I don't think it's hurting anyone," I answered, annoyed that she'd brought Carlisle into this.
"Perhaps not," he said. He waited for a more detailed answer, which I never provided. He wasn't going to be satisfied with any answer I gave, because even I knew my rationale was weak so I didn't bother. It was obvious Emmett had simply come along for the ride on this one.
Carlisle was clearly stressed by the conversation. Between Alice's request and our behavior, he was questioning plenty of things, not the least of which was whether it was time for a visit to Alaska to take a break from our masquerade. "Let me say, I would like to dissuade you from this because I think it draws unneeded attention, and I would expect that if any problems arise, you will return to dressing more appropriately.
Incredulous, Rosalie huffed again and went to her room, thus beginning a three week silent treatment.
"In that case, Alice, I think I need some help. How do you get this shit off?" Emmett asked, pointing to his face.
"You could use some help putting on too, and you do realize there are higher quality outlets for such paraphernalia don't you?" she said.
I laughed. "Designer goth? Doesn't that kind of defeat the purpose?"
"Laugh all you want, but given the thread count you're used to, you'll thank me later." With that, she dragged Emmett off for makeup tips and an online shopping spree.
It was amazing how fast our lives turned around as the result of such a simple decision as what to wear.
Emmett was in detention for several days in a row. He swore up and down he did not deserve it.
"I didn't do anything. They've just decided I'm a trouble maker."
The others were suspicious, but I could see it as well. It was unnerving the way people started to look at me. I didn't expect it to matter what my classmates thought of me, but I didn't like it all.
On the second day, Alice made an unexpected decision at lunch. Instead of joining Jasper and Rosalie, she headed to a table where Becky, the girl she'd help with her cheerleading routine, sat eating baby carrots and low-fat yogurt.
We all barely interacted with each other for a few days. We'd pass each other in the hall without a word, and in Rosalie's case, not even a head nod or a smile.
She only broke her silence in group settings and then, it was only to express more of her anger at us.
One night, we were all hanging out in the living room. She was reading. Jasper and I stared at a chess board, while Alice and Emmett were playing cards. Out of nowhere, Emmett asked, "Do you think Marty is gay?"
"Who's Marty?" Jasper wondered.
"Marty Hess, that guy I've been hanging out with."
"He carries a purse, Em. Of course he's gay," Rosalie said. Her tone was condescending and dismissive.
"Why do you ask?" Alice wondered.
"Well, see, I know what people say. I walk down the hall with him and people call him all kinds of terrible names. But I just don't' get that vibe from him when we talk."
"That's because you're too busy sharing eye liner secrets," Rosalie said.
"He's not gay." They all turned toward me. "In fact, this should make you happy Rose. He's been checking your assets all week."
"That doesn't mean anything."
"No, but his thoughts confirm his sexual orientation quite clearly. He's just playing a part. He wants to be a designer, and he knows what people expect of him."
"Why the hell are we having this conversation? I don't give a shit about Marty Hess. He can pick his nose with his toe for all I care. Since when did we sit around talking about the personal lives of humans?" She shook her head and slammed her magazine down on the table. "The only thing I care about him or any of them is that they stay far enough away not to notice anything that might make them wonder what I am. That is what you all should be worried about too!"
After she stormed out of the room, Emmett exhaled. "Man, she's not letting this go."
I didn't want to say it in the house because she'd be listening, but even if I couldn't read her thoughts, it was pretty obvious it wasn't about Emmett's clothing choices. She was used to Emmett's full attention, and she wasn't sure how to handle his new distractions, even if they weren't a romantic threat.
A few days turned into a few weeks. Emmett was invited to dinner at his friend Marty's house and had to decline. Alice's friend Becky wanted her to sleep over one weekend. I kept having to turn down cigarettes and even slightly stronger herbs. I found myself feeling pent up. Instead of my usual apathetic haze, I was edgy and frustrated. The constant teasing, the assumptions, the watching good people get hurt, and the honestly the makeup, were all draining.
Of course, with my mind reading ability, I was always aware of the evils of high school. I knew how painful it was for most humans. The difference was, I didn't usually care. Caring was not particularly fun. I wasn't convinced it was better than boredom either.
I could see the drain on us all. The whole family felt oddly disconnected, even more than the years we'd lived apart. Rosalie wouldn't budge. She was so convinced we had all gone crazy and needed to stopped.
Ultimately, we were not good rebels. We did not epitomize the youth subculture well. To an outsider we were not merely teenagers going through a phase. Instinctually, people sensed something was off about us. As a result, our foray into the fake occult was perceived to be even more dangerous than those of actual teenagers. The calls came from neighbors, classmates' parents, the principal, and even my boss. That's when Carlisle put his foot down.
"I don't often make requests that are heavy handed, but this is simply not working. I've lost two patients this week who assume I must hold animal sacrificing in my basement if these are the kind of children I raise. The rumor is I do foster care to add to my minions."
We all stifled laughs but his expression stopped us from letting them loose.
None of us wanted to disappoint Carlisle. We had no choice but to give in.
Taking off the goth costume signaled the end of more than a fashion trend. When I put on my jeans, and rolled the sleeves of my button down, I knew that I could feel the connection to my classmates fading away.
I wasn't the only one.
Later, I was unsurprised when I once again found Alice sitting with her feet hanging in that creek.
"I'm tired," she said as I sat down next to her. "How is that even possible? Do you feel it?"
I shrugged. "I don't know."
"Well, I can tell you why. This shit's hard," Emmett's voice boomed from behind us. He plopped down on the other side of Alice, and we all contemplated our weeks as typical teenagers.
"Did you know Becky made the cheerleading squad?" Alice asked.
"Yeah, I'm pretty sure I heard something. That's great," I said, hesitantly. I couldn't get a good enough sense on whether Alice was feeling pride or regret.
"I thought so too. Today she told me I wasn't cool enough to hang out with her anymore. Can you believe that?"
I could actually. I'd heard thoughts like that more often than I could count.
"She doesn't know what's she's missing, Al," Emmett said. His genuinely sympathetic tone seemed to resonate and comfort at the same time.
Alice smiled when Emmett squeezed her.
"Marty kept staring at me yesterday. After about ten minutes, he asked. 'Did you have plastic surgery?' It's harder to fake normal when you get up close and personal with them isn't it?"
We nodded in response. I supposed this was all a good reminder of why we should not get too close. Perhaps, there was merit to Rosalie's tirade after all, not that I was about to admit that to her.
"So, it's going to be weird on Monday," Alice said, "seeing you two without your leather."
"Oh man, that part I will not miss." Emmett looked down at his basketball shorts, then made a motion to adjust himself. "Leather is not very breathable, if you know what I mean."
"I love you, Em," Alice said.
"You're a dork," I responded, laughing.
"Well, not anymore I guess," he said.
"Do you wish you hadn't done it?" Alice asked.
I shook my head, and Emmett said, "Nope. You know what I learned? I like humans a lot, but I'm pretty glad I'm not one anymore."
I smiled because that was the quintessential Emmett. He could take something so complicated and emotionally twisted and make it so perfectly simple.
"By the way," Alice said suddenly perking up. "Becky is going to break her ankle in a few months and she won't be able to be on the cheerleading team. And your friend Marty will have his own line at 28."
We enjoyed a few more minutes in our post human glow before Emmett went off to make up with Rosalie, who had thawed the minute the leather came off.
Alice decided she and Jasper needed some quality time so they took off on a hunt.
I stayed in the woods a while longer, embracing my solitude.
Perfectly simple indeed.
E/N: One final note. Rabbit Hole was nominated for "Best Volturi/Nomad" in the Twilight Vampire Awards. Voting begins on July 11th if you're so inclined. www(dot)twificpics(dot)com(