Title: And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead
Summary: "Not a single drop of blood." His eyes are stern. He means every word. "That's our rule of thumb and if you break it, I'll kill you." Edward helps Rosalie get revenge. E/R one shot. Pre-Twilight.
Disclaimer: I wish they were mine; I could use the millions.
Author's Note: So I guess this is mindful of canon but with AU possibilities? Fuck it I hate labels so here's the deal: I like to think Rose had some help in Kill Bill-ing Royce and his friends. I also like to think that there's no way she and Edward were never interested in each other (cause you know, you can be interested but not meant to be). Those two thought processes gave birth to this big thought process that's hopefully an entertaining (possibility? fact? alcohol induced delusion?) read.
If you leave feedback I won't bake you cookies or send a fictional character to your house to perform sexual favors, but I will appreciate you. That's gotta count for something, right?
Rochester, NY 1933
There are now ashtrays in every room of the house. Overkill to be sure, but Esme's desire for her to be comfortable – accepting of this new life wins against practicality, and Rosalie takes full advantage of the hospitality. Each is filled near the brim with butts and stale cigarette smoke replaces fresh cut flowers as the signature smell of the Cullen household.
It's just another reminder that the equilibrium of his world has been thrown off by her presence, and it irritates the living hell out of him.
So when Edward walks downstairs and into a noxious cloud the plan is to look deeply annoyed: to spell out with the perfect side-eye that he doesn't want her here just as much as she doesn't want to be here.
His brows knit tightly while other facial muscles inch their way towards a frustrated scrunch, but then Edward pauses. No doubt that had Rosalie noticed him sooner she would've never given birth to that thought, but it's too late. Their eyes are locked on each other, the Chesterfield Regular burns between her fingertips, and that thought hangs in the ether.
The shock of the moment passes, replaces itself with anger. "How dare you!" she seethes. "A – A person's thoughts are sacred; they're one of the few things that truly belong to you in this world and you can't just go around…"
"You're not a person anymore." His words lack maliciousness, but this cool statement of fact still makes her recoil.
"I guess that's your cue then," she begins sarcastically, tapping her cigarette over the ashtray. "Go on and tell the good doctor the truth; tell him how horrible I am. Maybe he'll actually do me a favor this time around."
To rat out Rosalie's blackest desires meant bringing their family unit back to the natural order of three, meant never having to call the life Carlisle chose for them into question, meant being inundated with the smell of fresh cut flowers. It meant the restoration of balance.
She isn't exactly a chatterbox, but he knows her story like the back of his own hand. When the pain of her transformation subsided long enough for her to talk, she lied expertly (a gang of drunken, faceless hoods and a beautiful blonde in the wrong place at the wrong time), and Edward never let on to the fact he could hear the name Royce screaming from every corner of her mind.
And he does, if only for a moment, contemplate spilling it all to Carlisle because everything about Rosalie Hale breaks the flow of things. But then he hears the name Royce – he drowns in memories of alcohol laden breath, rough hands, broken bones, and the tearing of her womanhood and Edward's disgust over the depths humanity continually proves itself capable of sinking to becomes far greater than his need for symmetry.
She's visibly surprised when he crosses the room and takes a seat in the chair opposite her own.
"If we're going to do this we've got to get one thing straight," Edward says. "Not a single drop of blood." His eyes are stern. He means every word. "That's our rule of thumb and if you break it, I'll kill you."
Her ruby lips curl into a sardonic grin. "There's a 'we' in this equation?"
"I'm not letting you handle this alone," he tells her simply. "No blood – are we clear?"
Rosalie takes a casual last drag and blows the smoke in Edward's direction,
5). Martin Blackshire
The smell of mothballs is overpowering. It clings to every surface of the room and makes Edward's nostrils involuntarily flinch. The highest concentration is on Mother Blackshire's dingy housecoat, and every time she moves a fraction of an inch the odor swirls anew around his head with a musky undercurrent of sweat and there's a dull flicker of a memory of what it feels like to vomit in the back of his mind.
"Oh Rosie, it's so good to see you. We all thought something awful had happened to you. Marty hasn't been right for weeks; I can only imagine what poor Royce must've gone through."
He watches Rosalie and the old woman chat animatedly out of the corner of his eye while pretending to be interested in the dusty photographs lining the fireplace mantle. To her credit, Rose smiles very prettily and is very careful about not sitting too still for too long; she crosses and uncrosses her legs, she props her head in her hand, she casually touches the half-full glass of milk in front of her, she flips her hair, and it's all very human.
"Did you get cold feet, honey? I was so nervous about marrying my Harry- god rest his soul- I nearly hopped the first train to Poughkeepsie."
Rosalie laughs loudly, melodiously. "My feet were more like ice blocks."
"Well, I'm sure Royce won't hold it against you. He's probably just relieved you're alright." Edward feels her turn in his direction before she even addresses him. "Are you sure I can't get you anything…? Gosh," she chuckles sheepishly, "I've forgotten you're name already. I beg your pardon my mind is not as sharp as it used to be."
His eyes shift away from a picture of a five year old Martin to the frail visage of his mother. "Edward," he informs her politely, "and no ma'am I'm fine, thank you."
"Marty should be home soon." She sighs heavily before taking a drink of her milk. "I don't know what to do about that boy; his drinking's gotten out of control lately- he's in and out at all hours of the night, or locked away in his room. I'm glad you're here, Rosie cause I think he's just been worrying himself sick about you. He'll be so happy to see you; Marty always liked you, you know."
Rosalie smiles and Edward 'overhears' exactly how much Marty really liked her and he has to stop himself from snapping the porcelain figurine he'd picked up in two.
Outside, tires rumble to a stop over the gravel driveway. A car door slams. Heavy boots thud their way up porch steps.
"Ma, for Christ's sake it's almost midnight! What're you still doing up…?"
Martin Blackshire stands in the doorway, disheveled and shaking snow from his coat. His angular jaw is marred with stubble, his black hair is greasy and haphazardly draping his forehead and his blue eyes are as wide as saucers.
Edward watches his Adam's apple bob up and down.
"Marty look who's here!" Mother Blackshire exclaims. "She was with her cousin Edward the whole time – it was just a bad case of cold feet. Isn't that a relief?"
The legs of the chair scrape across the linoleum as Rosalie stands. "It's good to see you, Marty. I'm sorry to drop in unexpectedly, but I'm still working up the nerve to face Royce after what happened and I thought it best to see his closest friends first."
Martin's heart thuds loudly against his chest. "You want me to relay a message or something?" he asks with a slight tremble in his voice.
Rose gives him a tooth-bearing grin. "Something like that."
"Ma," he begins and clears his throat, "why don't you go to bed, hmm? I told you to stop waiting up for me."
His mother waves him off, but climbs to her feet with all of the speed her seventy-five years will allow, and Martin crosses the room in order to press a kiss to her temple.
"I wouldn't have to stay up if you came home at a decent time," she chides. "I worry, you know."
"I know." Martin nods. "You won't have to worry anymore, I promise."
"Rosie, you get more and more beautiful every time I see you." Paper thin arms envelope Rosalie's waist and she returns the hug. "I'm glad you're okay."
"Goodnight, Mrs. Blackshire."
Nobody makes a move until the old woman is safely at the top of the stairs, until she's secured behind her bedroom door.
Martin white-knuckles the back of the chair, his eyes closed. He thinks he's passed out in an alley somewhere and this is the product of some horrible, Wild Turkey induced nightmare, and when he gets the courage to open his eyes again he's greeted by Edward's smile.
"You're not dreaming," he informs him chuckling. "You're not Ebenezer Scrooge and we're not the ghosts of rapes past."
Martin is shaking – inching his way towards the door. "It wasn't my idea, Rose – I swear, I never meant to hurt you. I'm a fucking lousy drunk that wasn't in his right mind. Go to the police; I'll confess to my part in everything – I deserve it."
He backs right into Edward and Martin panics when he's gripped tightly and spun around. "Wha – How, how did you get from over there so quickly?"
"You know, in all of that flapping your gums have been doing I've yet to hear an apology." Edward's face is close to his; Martin's heartbeat pounds in his head along with the man's fear, and he can make out the veins crisscrossing like roadmaps just beneath his skin. Blood and mothballs swirl around his nose, and Edward wants to give in and tear his throat out. "That doesn't bode well for you, Marty."
"Who are you?"
Edward takes a big sniff, lets the venom pool in the bottom of his mouth. "I'm your judge and jury." He spins Martin around to face Rosalie. "She's your executioner."
Her hands are around his throat in an instant and when she's done, Edward slings Martin's lifeless body over his shoulder and trudges upstairs to his bedroom.
A noose is made of Martin's belt and the clothing rack pulls in slight protest to the added weight of his body.
Edward makes sure to shut the closet door.
"You know, I never smoked when I was alive. Not even once."
Not a single word has passed between Edward and Rosalie since that night at Martin Blackshire's nearly two weeks ago. Carlisle chocks the silence up to Edward's standoffish nature and Esme remains firm in her belief that the two simply need more time to warm up to one another.
For his part, Edward thinks Rose is too busy processing the fact they killed a man to bother with any pleasantries (for once he doesn't know for sure; he's working on being a little less rude by trying to stay out of her head).
If he's idle for too long, his thoughts will drift to Marty; to the fear in his eyes, to the sound the toe of his boots made as they scraped the closet floor, to what his mother's face must've looked like when she discovered him.
If his hands aren't moving, he sees the sin written all over them. Not a drop of blood was spilled, but he can't get these goddamn spots out.
He and Rose have been sitting in silence for thirty minutes. Edward lets his mind fill with Dickens and the ticking of the clock, but not her thoughts because he doesn't want to be rude.
His head tilts curiously to the side. "Oh? Well, I'm glad you're excelling at it," he sarcastically replies.
Rosalie's eyes narrow, her teeth grit. She knows she's being baited and she doesn't fall for it. "One day, just completely out of the blue, I couldn't remember how to breathe," she says. "I know that sounds silly – why should I care about some bodily function I don't even need anymore, right?" She crosses her legs and flicks cigarette ash into the tray. "I was so damn terrified of forgetting again that I went out and bought a pack of Chesterfields to keep me breathing. I'm scared of forgetting…everything."
A Tale of Two Cities is tossed onto the coffee table next to an ashtray. He doesn't want to be rude, but he can't help it, and she's thinking about how she clipped Marty's obituary out of the paper like a trophy, about how she should be horrified at what she's done, but she just isn't, and she's worried she'll forget what it's like to have a soul.
Edward wishes he could give Rose words of encouragement on the topic of salvation, but that's Carlisle's department. Besides, he's got his own spots that won't come out… "I couldn't remember my mother. All I had was this hazy outline of her, but there was one thing that stood out." He removes a piece of paper from the pocket of his shirt, unfolds it, and holds it out for Rose to see:
"No matter what – I was a person once," he says. "Even if I have to write it down, I'm going to make sure I'll never forget."
4). Jack Ryan
In his bedroom. She smothers him with a pillow.
"Why don't you take her out?"
His eyes dart from Carlisle to Rosalie's obviously bored form and back to Carlisle again. He frowns. "Out?"
Carlisle's grinning and shaking his head. "You know 'out'; perhaps to a movie. I hear the kids are quite fond of movies these days." The good doctor leans in, whispers conspiratorially, "I think she's getting a bit stir crazy, Edward and it might be nice if you made more of an effort to get to know her…"
There's an urge to snap and tell Carlisle that he knows Rosalie better than anyone else in this world; he's seen her darkness and light – he's nurtured it, he's a part of it – and everything that she is, is as familiar to Edward as the back of his goddamn hand, but he bites his tongue.
He's always possessed with the urge to be a good son and no matter what it's always the stronger compulsion. "Someone could recognize her," he sighs. "You really want to take that chance?"
"We could go to the city," Rosalie chimes in from across the room. She doesn't bother to tear her attention away from the Look magazine in her lap.
Edward huffs. "It's impolite to eavesdrop."
She shoots back, "At least when I do it their lips are moving."
"Don't look so grim, Edward," Carlisle laughs and clamps a friendly hand down on his shoulder. "It's a perfectly overcast day, go and spend it in the city."
Edward hates New York. The lights, the sounds, the smell – he's grown to appreciate isolation and a slower pace over the years and New York doesn't seem to share in his sensibilities. His ears are assaulted with car horns and street vendors, and he's been bumped into (without apology) a grand total of twenty three times since he and Rosalie left Macy's, and he wonders how in the world this city manages to be as annoyingly loud as it is uncomfortably close.
There's a wolf whistle in their direction. Rosalie titters, her hips move with a bit more 'sway' than they started out with, and Edward gapes. "You wouldn't be so flattered by the attention if you knew the disgusting things he was thinking."
"Oh please." She gives an exaggerated roll of her eyes. "You're talking to a girl that received her assets a little earlier than most. I know exactly what he's thinking; I've been hearing it in one form or another since I was eleven."
"And you play it up," Edward scoffs.
"Vanity's not a crime." Rosalie shrugs and makes a show of swinging her shopping bags back and forth as they wait to cross the street. "Sorry to burst your bubble, Mr. Cullen, but not being handsome enough to tempt the likes of you didn't completely cripple my pride."
He does a double take and she snickers.
"I never said you were unattractive!"
"The look on your face when you saw me…it was like you'd just gotten a load of the bearded lady."
Edward stops in his tracks in order to face her full on. He drinks in the sight – the delicate pout of her lips, the curves, the golden hair being tousled slightly by the wind – she's so painfully gorgeous it makes him ache, and he wishes he wasn't such a realist because maybe then he'd have the guts to tell her so. "I was upset with Carlisle. I didn't like his assumption that we could be mates when he knows that's not an option for me. My reaction had nothing to do with your looks."
"Not an option?"
"Show me a girl that's keen on having her innermost thoughts on display all the time," he says. "It takes a lot of concentration for me to not peek. I can never relax and intimacy means being relaxed, which means not an option."
"You're just gonna play out an eternity as a choir boy?"
He shrugs. "It doesn't bother me. I've never even been kissed – it's not like I can miss something I didn't have in the first place."
"Geez, no wonder you're so uptight," she says and he laughs in spite of himself. "I could never…I mean, despite what happened the worst thing I can think of is never trusting anyone enough to let them in. I want to trust again." Rosalie transfers her bags to one hand and links her arm in his. "C'mon." She smiles. "I've got more shopping to do."
Edward's not trying to be rude, but he can't help it, and she's thinking that she could trust him – that, maybe on some level she already does, and he has to hold back a sigh.
Because she's cleverer than she lets on sometimes. Because she smokes to keep breathing. Because Royce and his friends took a lot but they didn't break her. Because she could trust him, and she makes him ache, but it's just not an option.
3). Stanley Porter
Drowns in his favorite fishing hole. They watch the current take his body upstream.
She snorts when she laughs. He finds this trait to be refreshingly winsome mostly due to what seemed in her a need to appear attractive and perfect at all times.
He likes that she can't help it. He likes that he's the only one present to hear it.
"Tell me another one," Rosalie says wiping tears from her eyes.
Edward shakes his head, beaming. "There once was a woman named Jill. Who swallowed an exploding pill. They found her vagina in North Carolina and her tits in a tree in Brazil."
He likes that she appreciates a good, dirty limerick.
2). Bradley Coopersmith
"Hey, can I trouble you for a light?"
He's nervous. Thin beads of sweat line his upper lip and he fidgets. He thinks he shouldn't of come out tonight what with Stanley now missing, and Marty and Jack dead, and Royce refusing to step foot out of his house these days. He thinks they're cursed and maybe he should've spent the night drinking alone instead of nursing a scotch and soda in a crowded club. After all, he was so damn nervous he left his mask at home and he feels like a jackass being maskless at a masquerade.
"Excuse me, buddy; how about a light?"
Bradley turns to his right. The source of the irritated voice is wearing a rosy cheeked bunny mask and holding a cigarette out at him. He fishes around in pockets and finally produces a matchbook.
The mask is pulled back, the cigarette placed between her lips. "Thanks a lot."
His breath catches in his throat and he's thinking his eyes are playing tricks on him in this dim lighting. The matchbook falls from his fingertips and Bradley makes a clumsy display trying to pick it up, but another set of fingers is quick to help and when he straightens back up he's looking into the face of a rosy cheeked bunny.
Edward pulls his mask back with one hand while playing with the matchbook in the other. "What's the matter, pal? You look like you've seen a ghost."
Bradley doesn't say a word, but he's thinking he shouldn't have come here tonight and he turns on his heel quickly to fight his way through the crowd. By the time he makes it into the alleyway he's gasping for air; he shuts his eyes, rests his head against the brick wall and tries to convince himself it was just the lighting.
"It wasn't the lighting," Edward says.
Bradley whips around, his mouth open for a scream that doesn't get to leave the confines of his throat because Rosalie puts her fist in it.
When he's choked on his last breath, when his body's slumped over in the dirty alley, when the spit on her hand is wiped on the side of her dress, Rosalie turns to Edward. "How's your Lindy Hop?" she asks sliding her mask back in place. "I'm in a dancing mood."
Edward takes her by the hand, twirls her around. "It's not bad."
She says she could use his company for a while because it's just one of those nights where she's got the blues for no good reason and though he knows her plans, he obliges her anyway.
He can't remember if it was always like this, but these days Edward's become somewhat of a scholar in masochism.
Rosalie's lips aren't moving, yet her voice is ringing in between his ears. It settles over every available surface his mind has to spare, and in this moment, more than anything Edward wishes complete silence were a realistic option for him.
"I can't…" he chokes on the words and curses his existence, "I can't give you what you need, Rose. God knows I want to, but the closer we are, the harder it gets to keep my guard up. Forget about an eternity – a month of this and we'd go insane." Edward taps at the side of his head. "There's just not enough room in here for the both of us."
Her smile is rueful and her fingers twist themselves up in the tail of his shirt as she moves nearer to him.
The very idea of 'them' existing as an 'us' will never go beyond this room, and this night. There will be no wedding invitations for Esme to design where their names appear alongside each other. There will be no flower arrangements or China patterns. There will be no honeymoon in Niagara Falls, and there will never be a decade, a century, a millennia's worth of memories together to file away in a junk drawer marked 'happily ever after'.
Rosalie knows all of this and she's accepted it, but she asks Edward to chuck it all just for now, and explore what could've been if the world were a little more fair.
Just for tonight.
She's pleading with him, but her lips aren't moving and Edward's exhausted his words and his resolve, so his mouth crashes against her own. Desperate, fumbling – he's never done this before – he'll get a complex about it later. Rosalie steadies his head in her hands to control the frenzy and guides him; she tells him to follow her lead, they've got all night and they shouldn't rush.
The back of Edward's legs hit the end of the bed and she stops kissing him, takes a step back and drops her fingers to the buttons on her blouse. If Rosalie ever had it in her to be demure it might look something like this. She tells him that despite her mouthy nature she's an old-fashioned girl and while she can't give him everything (Royce took a lot, but he didn't get her first night's experience in a marriage bed and she's determined to hold out for that moment) she wants to give him something because this for them is all there ever will be.
When she's standing in front of him clad in nothing but a corsolette, Edward smiles, embarrassed. "Prior to this, the closest I'd come to seeing a woman in her undergarments was a pack of stag cards in my grandfather's attic."
"Well isn't that a weighty expectation." Rosalie giggles and he smiles from ear to ear.
"You exceed it."
By daybreak his lips are acquainted with the curve of her neck, and she's grown fond of a cluster of freckles just to the right of his navel.
They commit one another to memory and vow to never speak of it again.
1). Royce King II
"Gotta love your flair for the dramatic, Rose."
The moon streaking through an opening in the curtains supplies the only light in the room, and Royce remains firmly planted in his seat square in the middle. There's an overpowering stench of unwashed flesh, dirty linens, a chamber pot that needs dumping hanging in the air, and that sliver of a memory of what it feels like to vomit flickers at the back of Edward's brain.
If Royce is scared he's not letting on. He's giving them great stoic face to go along with a steady heartbeat, and for once Edward's able to stop himself from being rude. He has no desire to know anything more about this man than he already does.
Rosalie steps into the moonlight, lets her wedding dress flair out around her. "Do like it?" she asks. "It's a beautiful, creamy color though you really can't make it out in this light…"
He cuts her off. "What happened to the men I had posted outside?"
"What do you think happened?"
"They had families; don't you care about that?"
She smiles. "Not particularly."
His chest rumbles until a deep, maniacal laughter escapes. Royce doubles over in hysterics for a full minute before he's able to straighten himself back up, before he's able to look her directly in the eye again. "Do it," he says.
"I had quite a lovely bouquet picked out; well, you know red roses and baby's breath, but I thought it was lovely…"
"Go on and fucking do it!" Royce screams at the top of his lungs.
His head between her hands, Rosalie gives one quick twist.
She's shaking – he can see it clear as day and before she can hit the ground Edward catches Rosalie in his arms. She clings to him for all its worth and he's never heard anyone cry as hard as this.
He holds her closely, tightly, and lets her sob until she's gasping for breath she doesn't need.
Edward notices the gradual disappearance of ashtrays around the house and by the time Carlisle announces he's taken a job offer in Gatlinburg, fresh cut flowers have returned to being the dominant smell in the Cullen household.
When he jokingly asks Rosalie why she's seemingly given up on keeping Chesterfield in business, she laughs loudly, melodiously.
"I don't need daily reminders anymore," she says. "I was a person once and no matter what I'm not going to forget."