This special outtake is for all of you who have read and reviewed. Hearing your thoughts has meant the world to me.
Chapter 23: Absolucíon epilogue special THANK YOU outtake
"I'm a vampire."
Rachel blinked. "A what?" She must have heard him wrong.
"A vampire," Rolle repeated, resting his hands loosely on her waist.
They stood in the cliff-side bunker that Rolle had carried her down to after descending the sheer cliffs of Marin Headlands overlooking San Francisco bay. Though Rachel had her eyes closed as she clung to his back, dangling over the cliff, she had heard him kick at something that broke inward and when she opened her eyes she saw the spotter's bunker carved into the rock. The back of the cool chamber had a thick metal door that was rusted but had once been battleship gray. Wires wrapped in now-moldy cloth snaked down the wall and ended knee high from the floor, which was covered with the remains of the broken plywood that had barricaded the chamber to keep out sea birds.
She smiled, waiting for the joke. "You're a vampire," she repeated sardonically, "who's been alone for almost seventy years."
She narrowed her eyes, trying to suppress her smile. "Prove it."
Rolle's brows went up in surprise. It wasn't the reaction he expected from her. He wasn't sure what he expected her to say—maybe disbelief or nervous laughter—but he didn't expected her to challenge him. He lowered his hands and took a step back from her, looking around the small chamber for some way to prove his claim. He deliberately avoided looking at her. He could only think of one terrifyingly obvious way to prove he was a vampire and that was not going to happen. He had to think of another way.
Glancing out over the ocean, he said, "I know how it sounds... but I can show you. Just don't freak out."
"Yeah, totally," Rachel said with a grin, shifting her weight to one leg and folding her arms.
Rolle moved to the opening, shaking his head. He looked back at her just as the setting sun slipped through a sliver of clouds and illuminated him. His skin glinted like prisms and the entire chamber filled with tiny scattered rainbows that danced as he moved. Rachel stared at him, nonplussed. Her mind not able to make sense of what she was seeing, even when Rolle peeled off his shirt sending even more rainbows across the rock walls. It wasn't until after he said again, "Don't freak out", and he flung himself through the opening that she finally accepted what her eyes were telling her. The cave was just as bright, but the color vanished with him.
Gaping in shock, Rachel rushed to the window and looked over the cliff searching for him. The surf below was churning and white. There was no sign of him.
"Oh, my God," she said in a gasp of breath, and repeated a moment later, "Ohmygod. Oh, my- Ohmygod. God..." She continued to look for him, but saw nothing. "Okay, okay," she muttered to herself. "Either he's a vampire or he just committed suicide. Oh, my God. Holy shit. Oh, shit. Oh, shit. Oh, hell, please be a vampire! I want you to be a vampire!"
The sounds of her gulping air were made artificially loud as it bounced off the stone around her. She continued to search for any sign of him, but the longer she waited the more panic she felt. The sun's final rays disappeared beyond the horizon when she saw something at the base of the cliff. Rolle's pale body was maneuvering around the boulders, just as unaffected by the waves that broke around him as he had been by the winds on Fisherman's Wharf.
Rolle looked up the cliff toward her, then looked out to sea as the tiny break in the clouds sealed itself closed and darkness began to thicken as the fog slowly built offshore. Hand over hand, he pulled himself up the cliff's face. Even if he was strong, he was moving far too fast for a normal person.
Rachel put her elbow on the rock and dropped her forehead into her hand as she watched him climb, disappearing here and there when protruding rocks blocked her view. As he got closer, he paused and looked up at her trying to gauge her reaction.
She stepped back from the opening and turned into the small space, pacing in the five foot area. Rolle lifted himself over the ledge and swung his legs in slowly as if he were trying not to startle her. She stopped in mid-stride and stared at him, but said nothing. Her expression was tense and her heart was racing, but did not flinch at his return nor were her eyes wide with fear. She had spent three days with this man. She had made love to him. She knew he would not hurt her.
Trying to fill the silence, Rolle tried to explain. "I'm not supposed to tell you these things. Humans aren't supposed to know about us, but... my friends... they said if I wanted to see you again, you had to know about me, what's happened to me. I don't feed on humans. I never have. Not even once." He motioned to his eyes but Rachel did not understand the gesture.
He was nervous, but not afraid. Carlisle and Edward had insisted that Rachel be told three things, the first two of which were related to his human life. First, she had to know about Gillian. Next, she had to know how isolated Rolle had been and that it would be hard for him to be around people a lot.
These two things were solely about him as a man. She had taken these revelations as only more reason to love him. He would have understood it if she couldn't love a vampire, because, well... that was creepy. But to love him just as him, even broken and messed up?
The last thing they insisted he tell Rachel was that he was a vampire. Edward, in particular, was adamant on this point. Don't decide for her. Don't assume you know what she wants. Present her with the facts, then let her decide for herself. Trust me on this. Remember, I already made that mistake so this is my turn to help you avoid being hurt or hurting her.
"Love holds no power without choice," Edward had told him. "I learned that the hard way."
"I don't think I totally understand," Rachel said, because that was something you'd say when you were in totally shock.
Rolle looked at her from under his lashes. "Do you... want to understand?"
She nodded slowly. "Yes."
Rolle allowed himself to sigh tightly in some relief that she was still listening. So he explained everything to her. He told her about his eye color and the difference between him and other vampires: red for those who fed on humans, gold for those who fed on animals. He told her about their speed and strength, and that he was only just learning about most of this because he was an oddity for their kind, having spent almost all of his immortality in the oceans, not knowing there were choices. He told her how his break with reality as a human had carried over into his immortality, leaving a fissure in his mind that made it hard for him to keep out the influence of others.
He spoke for ten minutes before he realized that Rachel was waiting for him expectantly, and almost impatiently. "What?"
"How is this is the end of us?" she asked.
Rolle stumbled back a half of a step when he realized she had been waiting for the shoe to drop that would explain to her why his being a vampire would keep them apart.
Nothing he had told her had shaken her. Nothing she had learned had been reason enough to stay away from him.
He smiled crookedly at her and shrugged. "I think me being a mental basket case is probably our bigger hurdle." When Rachel just continued to stare at him, he added, "That, and the fact that I don't know how to do this... any of this. Dating?" he said, then added incredulously, "A human? And I have to stay with my friends to get their help while I work through this. And you have a job and a life..." He shook his head and shrugged.
Happiness finally started to chip through her shock and a slow smile blossomed on her lips when she realized he had actually been thinking about this. Still smiling she moved toward him.
He watched her advance warily, not sure he should begin to hope what her smile meant for them even as it continued to get wider and happier, crinkling her eyes.
"Really?" He couldn't stop himself from asking.
She kissed him, throwing her arms around his neck and practically crawling up his body to get closer to him. His question was answered in the best possible way as his own arms circled her and pulled her close. Their smiles broke their kiss even though they tried their best to keep their lips together.
"So what then?" he asked. "How do we do this? Like a long distance relationship?"
"I guess," she answered almost absently as she reveled in the simple notion that he was still in her life, curling her fingers into his damp hair.
Rolle stiffened in her arms and looked at her, his face tight with concern. "Did I say something wrong?" He felt awkward and over sensitive, laboring over each choice of words.
"What? No," she hurried to assure him. "No, I think it's... Wow."
"I mean, the more we consider logistics..." His voice trailed off sadly.
"I want it to work. We can make it work," she insisted. "We'll write each other, and text and call. We'll find places to meet whenever we can."
Rachel's imagination spun wildly. If vampires were real, who knew what else could be real? In spite of the realization that fantasy worlds existed, she was still pragmatic about reality, and in her reality, she had a job and bills to pay and obligations to family and friends. While tempting to abandon it all and submerge herself into Rolle's world, the reality was that she still knew very little about him and only time would guide them now to help them adapt to whatever fate would bring.
"I have to stay with the Cullens," he repeated. "And you have a life, and friends, and a job."
She smiled, happy to know that even if he was a creature of myth, Rolle still understood practical matters as well. She was grateful that he could offer this consideration, but that did not stop her from wanting to be with him. "Then I'll come to you," she said, ignoring the rest.
Rolle regarded her quietly, concerned at her quick dismissal. "You realize, we've only touched on the..."
"...Obstacles we'll face," she said, finishing his sentence for him, ignoring his startled expression. "I know, but we'll deal with them as they come up and see what happens."
Rolle didn't know what to think of her easy acceptance. Demon, vampire... he still had trouble letting go of the idea that he wasn't worthy of this. "You want to do this? You wouldn't mind? We wouldn't really have any privacy," he pointed out.
"Then we'll find someplace close where we can go."
"I can't be around a lot of people, honey. Not until I can learn which are my thoughts and what I'm getting from the outside."
"So we'll find some place secluded," Rachel insisted, instantly finding an answer to this problem as well.
"You'd always be in the shadows to be with me."
"Rolle, I don't... I just... None of that matters," she said, shaking her head and holding him tight. "I don't want this story to be over." She paused, looking at him, searching for something she might be missing. "Do you?"
Rolle's expressions softened as he looked into her hopeful eyes. She had countered every one of his concerns in spite of all the obstacles and unknowns. More importantly, he realized he hadn't been influenced by her unflappable optimism in having some kind of future with him.
A gentle smile tugged at his lips as he shook his head. "No." He pressed his lips to hers. "I think this story is just beginning."
~ Really and truly the end ~
A/N: Thanks to MasenVixen for letting me borrow a line from chapter 25 of "Stranger than Fiction." Love holds no power without choice. It suited this outtake perfectly.