Chapter Summary: Couldn't Bella have just asked me first before she cut off all her hair? I told her to be brave, not stupid.

Side story to Rose Read by Jocelyn Torrent. Precedes both my Christmas Surprises and my The Bells are Ringing.


The weekend started like every other weekend started for me.

Which is: it didn't. One of the niceties of being human is that things have a start and an end. People don't realize that being in time, where the past is in the past, and not always occurring in the present is such a … well, Carlisle would say it's a blessing.

What I call this? This thing? This eternity I'm trapped in? Carlisle calls that a blessing, too.

Idiot.

I don't call it a 'blessing;' I call it unrelenting.

Well, the past couple of months haven't been like that, because as my family has told me, over and over, that up to now I was being selfish.

They didn't put it that way, exactly. Instead they couched it, or Esme couched it, in words of, 'Oh, if you are occupied with doing something you [she said] love, then the other things fade and you enjoy this now.'

Utter nonsense.

Really. How could the Cullens have at their head two blindly optimistic imbeciles yet be a force to be reckoned with across the world? It just didn't make sense, because Carlisle and Esme never made any sense. They were totally out of touch with reality.

Reality? I know reality. From the moment of my creation, I knew exactly what the world is like and I know exactly how people in the world are like.

Or … I thought I knew reality. I thought I knew people.

But then, these past couple of months, I've … well, somebody's entered my life, for the first time, and I've been thinking about her, and looking after her (because she really, really needs to be looked after with that relationship with danger she has: either her inquisitive mind or her, well, frankly, lack of poise draws her right to the most fantastic situations), and this Nowness is not so oppressive anymore.

In fact, the last two months have been rather a whirlwind, and I know every moment of it, but it's all come so quickly as compared to the last century.

And it's all come so … well, I find myself looking forward to seeing what her next visit brings. I find myself looking forward to something.

For the first time in my existence.

And without her? Well, this last week has been hard. But I couldn't be with her this past week. I just couldn't. I mean, with that scent just so enticing normally, but with her bleeding even just that little tiny bit due to her menstrual flow …?

I mean when what my body needs more than anything in the world is to consume every last drop of her, and then add on top of that her own body emitting that during her period?

Bella Swan is Edward Cullen's singer, yes, but in a way, her call is just so alluring for every vampire, and, with my scent being what it is, and hers being hers, well, she may not be technically my singer, but the struggle for me as almost as bad as if she were.

It's a vampire thing, you wouldn't understand.

Just like eternity. I can explain it until you're blue in the face (my face doesn't change color, if you missed that), but this being? this existing? You have no conception of how everything is always Now until you're there, trapped in that Hell, with no way out unless you pull an Edward, … and have the guts to follow through on that instead of wussing out like my 'older' brother did.

But if eternity for me is Hell, having every moment of my past always right there in front of me, then think what it's like for my 'younger' sister, Alice.

Alice.

Not only does she have this thisness, but she's got every possible future in front of her eyes, too. So I can sympathize, sometimes, with her, when she gets annoyed at somebody when they keep resisting what they know they must do.

Actually, I so thoroughly enjoyed it when Edward had his little human problem, watching Alice stand on tiptoe and get right in Edward's face as Edward tried to deny what was so obvious to everybody, including him if he only wasn't being so stupidly obstinate.

But then, three months ago, it was my turn.

And when Alice was giving me her warm, and helpful, and irritated, and impatient advice which I did not ask for, thank you very much! Well, I didn't like being on the receiving end all that much.

I mean, Alice has always been the gadfly of the family. That's the best description of her. She calls herself a 'pixie' because she plays up the 'cute' angle, but I saw from the beginning, when she joined our family in 1950 her game. 'Oh, I'm happy-bouncy-funny-crazy, so you have to listen to me and do exactly what I say because I won't let up until you do. Oh, and you'd better be smiling and chuckling as I make you, too!'

She could play that game with the others. But right from the get-go she saw she couldn't pull that shit with me. She could push around the others, but she couldn't push around me.

Nobody pushes me around. After all, I'm Rosalie Lillian Hale.

And I think, me, drawing that line for her, and her, respecting that?

I think our relationship has grown to be the strongest in the family. I mean, certainly the mated pairs have each other, right down to their very being. That's undeniable: Carlisle is for Esme; Esme, for Carlisle. Alice is for Jasper and vice versa, but outside of that, even though it appears that Alice and Edward are like inseparable siblings, how do they really treat each other? They assume their relationship and so they live with each other with easy smiles and short-hand.

Alice and myself? There is a relationship built on mutual respect, because it's a relationship that took more than a decade to build. She makes no assumptions of me, even after all these years. She respects me for who I am, and I've seen that, and I respect that in her.

But that doesn't stop her from being that annoying little gadfly that she is, all the time. And now that Bella and I are, finally, together as a couple, Alice, ever watchful of Bella, her 'BFF' (oh, for goodness sake!), has now focused more of that concern on me than ever before.

Not quite sure I like this increased attention from my little sister.

So when Alice got that quiet, thoughtful look on her face with her eyes looking at nothing here, and then got all excited and bouncy in that annoyingly 'pixie-like' way that is signature Alice, I ignored it, as I always do.

I shouldn't have, even as she turned right to me with that pointing finger of hers.

I hate it when she does that.

But her words should have clued me in that something was up. And they did.

"Now, Rosalie," she hissed with narrowed eyes, "don't you dare mess this up!"

I sighed. "Yes, Alice," I answered.

It was pointless to argue with Alice when she got like this, and what was to argue about? Asking her what she meant? Fifty years of having these conversations allowed me to avoid wasting breath asking. She only got smug with her 'you'll see' pronouncements, and if there's one thing that pisses me off, it's a smug Alice.

"I'm serious!" she answered hotly. Of course she was displeased that I wasn't smiling and happy and bouncy when I answered. Of course I knew that, so my capitulating was actually my way of sticking it to her.

Oh, the games families play when they've known each other for a while!

"And!" she continued, "Don't you dare run off with her! We want to see her, too!"

"Oh, no!" I exclaimed. The realization began to dawn that something was really amiss.

"Uh-huh! She did it!" Alice beamed. She got to be smug after all.

I put my head into my hands, being very careful how my hair fell.

See, Bella and I had been watching movies together, and so we saw the Alien 'quadrilogy' — 'quadrilogy'? I still argue there's no such word — and Bella's favorite of the series? Alien³

And why was that? I finally pried that little piece out of her: she felt the singing of the Agnus Dei sounded a bit like me when I sing. You should have seen her blush as she admitted this.

Of all the …

But, as we watched Alien³, her in my lap, she mentioned that it was so brave of Sigourney Weaver to shave her head like that to play Ripley, and she wondered what that would be like, to be bald, and since she was still human, she could try that before she was turned and …

"She didn't!" I whispered into my hands.

I could just see her so full of pheromones, hormones, and angry, nervous energy going to a stylist and snarling, 'cut it all off!' My mousy little Bella, trying so hard to be brave. I could just see my bald little Bella Sinéad O'Connor Swan when I picked her up at her house for this weekend's slumber party.

I could just picture her, too: her big brown eyes and buddhist head, looking so much smaller now without her hair, looking so much more frightened because now she had nothing to hide behind. Would she also be dressed in all black, and be wearing black lipstick and nail polish, too? Would she also have a tattoo across her back that said 'Fight the Power!'?

Could I still love her, looking like that?

I froze time. Everything stopped: the motes in the air, Alice's pointing finger, Carlisle's and Esme's look of confusion and concern.

Could I still love her?

Yes.

I could still love her, because I do.

No matter how she looks, I love her.

Because she is everything. She is my whole being.

But that will not save her from the talking to she's going to get, and I don't care if she cries this whole weekend, but she's going to get a very clear message from me. How I look is not vanity, because how you treat yourself and how you make yourself look for others is how you think of yourself, and I could let her humble little girl-next-door look go [from time to time], because Bella is humble, but this?

I lifted my head from my hands, and firmed up my resolve. Bella was going to get the lecture, and she was going to be made to understand, because I was going to tell her, gently, yes, lovingly, yes, but also in a way that she would be made to understand.

Alice saw my resolve, and her face hardened with her own.

"Rosalie," she said forcefully, "and don't you dare make a big deal out of this!"

"I won't!" I hissed back, irritated at the hypocrisy. Alice could push and bully Bella around with her cutesy intimidation tactics all the time, but me just saying one honest thing is not okay?

"Oh, I know you, Rosalie Hale," Alice retorted, "and don't you think for one second that I don't. You won't say anything at first, but then you'll be all polite and formal and thoughtful and 'just want to ask one question.' And you know what that will do to her. You know. She'll see right through that bullshit you throw up for everybody, including especially yourself, you altruistic self-righteous do-gooder, and her heart will be alternately stopping and racing in time with her stomach flips. Do you want her to have a heart attack before she's turned? Do you want to ruin this entire weekend because 'oh, I'm just saying, Bella'? Do you?"

Alice was right in my face as she shouted these words at me.

My eyes narrowed, and everything in me wanted me to lean forward and rip my sister's face right off.

I paused for one significant second, and leaned back in my chair at the table, putting down my book and crossed my arms.

"My, my," I said quietly. "Is some poor little Biloxi girl miffed that the South still hasn't risen again against us Northern oppressors?"

Low of me, I know, for I was reminding her of a past she only had through documents that showed she was just poor white trash.

And striking at her by attacking something near and dear to her one and only Major in the Confederate army? Jasper's frown was grim, and that displeasure, as he emoted it to us all, hit his Alice the hardest.

Alice visibly controlled herself. It looked like she was fighting the urge for a tussle herself.

Good! I could use some honesty, and a knock-down, drag-out fight, after all these years of peace, love … and pretension.

But it was not to be.

"I'm serious, Rosalie," she whispered, looking at me, her eyes filled with sincere concern.

Alice is strong and resolved, too, in her own way. We all are. We must be.

Just as I must be.

I looked away. "I know you are, Alice," I whispered, "I just don't know, when I see Bella again, how to …"

Alice interrupted me: "Just be what you've been being with her, Rose. Aren't you happy when you're with her? Don't fall back to what you've been before, because you weren't happy then."

"So, be yourself, Rosalie," she said. Then she paused. Then she added angrily: "And be nice!"

I nodded and got up from the table, looking around at my family, looking at me, reproachfully.

"Well," I said to nobody in particular, "I have to pick up Bella now …"

I was so looking forward to spending time with her this weekend, and now there was a bitter acid taste in my mouth.

"And bring her here!" Alice commanded.

I looked at Alice, and nodded again sadly. She smiled warmly, encouragingly, at me as I turned to leave.

"Rosalie," Alice called.

I turned back.

She pointed at the table. "Don't forget your book." Her smile widened.

I picked up the book in question and headed out to the garage.

I got into my baby, my hot red BMW M3 convertible and drove slowly off to Bella's, that is, at a speed that if her dad Charlie, that is Police Chief Swan, caught me, wouldn't have gotten me a ticket, it would have put me right in court. And, as I drove, the trees blurring past me, a paradox plagued me.

How could I be me … and be nice?


Chapter end notes:

[1] Is it okay, my dearies, if I don't have any endnotes (I mean, except this one) for this chapter or this story? I'm not feeling particularly witty today. Oh, okay, I'll do an endnote fer realz: I cleared this idea with JT, but that doesn't necessarily mean she likes it (and how could she know that, as she hasn't read it at all?) Don't blame her if this isn't what you expect from Rose Read; blame me. Conversely, all the good stuff comes from her story idea and our discussions and I went from there, so if you like what you see, give her story a read and review those yummy chapters.

[2] Okay, one more note, I guess: this story, unlike my Happy Ending story, does have a happy ending. Sorta. I mean, insofar as … well, do you remember your first time with a girl — which also happened to be your very first time ever — with all that stuff going through your head, maybe, and … well, you'll see.

[3] sigh! Just one more, when Rosalie says she 'knows' reality, she's referring to the fact that she thinks everybody's either a murdering rapist or a user, because that's how she [sees how she] came to be a vampire, as her mother pushed her into an engagement to man who left her for dead after he and his buddies forced themselves on her. Since then, Rosalie has had 'some' 'trust issues.' Yeah: 'some.' *rolls eyes*

[4] Oh, please do not ask me if this was gonna be a one-shot, okay? I've proved that I can write one-shots with Rosalie and Me and Prowling Panther ... even though I've come up with chapter 2's for both those stories, too, already. *buries head in hands* What can I say? Rosalie is a complex character, difficult to distill into one chapter, so she made me expand this one-shot into a larger story. Don't believe me? Ask JT about Rose Read (an one-shot *ahem* originally titled And I am Not).