Title: Angels in Disguise
Summary: Angels come to us as messengers, as guardians, as rescuers… maybe at the same time, and usually when we least expect them. Emmett/Rosalie, pre-Twilight Canon
Pen name: SubtlePen
Primary Players: Emmett/Rosalie
Word Count: 3747
Beta'd by: TheHeartofLife
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~Eastern Tennessee, 1935~
The morning sun was still a ways from rising, and a heavy mist clung to the hills. In a routine that had become automatic, I pushed myself out of bed, splashed a handful of cold water over my face, dressed and made my way outside. I carried my rifle in the crook of my arm, with a canteen, a couple of stale biscuits and mashed beans tucked in the knapsack over my shoulder, and headed into the woods.
In my father's absence, I was the head of the family. I kept the house from falling down around our ears, a stack of wood near the door, and meat on the table as often as possible. I had little idle time, but I filled it dreaming of a different life, traveling to far away places I'd only read about in school books. I loved to read, and used to be a familiar face at the small library in town. When I turned fourteen, my father sat me down and told me it was time to be a man. That meant leaving my schoolbooks behind, and learning to help provide for our family.
I'd grown up hunting and fishing, learning early how to bait a hook, and how to shoot as soon as I was old enough to hold a gun. My father and uncles taught me the proper way to gut and skin everything from rabbits and turkeys to deer and wild hogs. I went on a bear hunt once and was thrilled to have helped take down such a fierce animal, one that had become a nuisance in the county. The meat it provided fed three families, and the hide brought a pretty penny when it was cured.
I walked through the forest, wondering if my little brother Webb had any luck this time with the mill foreman. He kept promising my dad to give us jobs, but it seemed like he never had any to offer when we came knocking. I'd given up trying. It was the same story everywhere; there were no jobs to be had. I hoped he'd find something soon. My hunting could provide us with meat, but the pelts just barely covered my ammo.
I thought of my baby sister Faye, at home caring for Ma, same as she had for the last few years. Ma was ill, and had been since the baby before this one died after less than a day. Daddy had been traveling with a logging crew and when he came home, he stayed only long enough to get her with child again. This baby lasted barely a week, and we named him William when she was too sick to tell us what name she'd chosen. Webb and I carved it into an oak cross and buried him in the family plot next to her parents, the tiny graves of five other babies and Faye's twin, who'd died at age six from scarlet fever.
Daddy didn't find out until two weeks later.
~Rochester, NY, 1935~
I never slept, but if I didn't stay busy, the memories still sometimes overran me. Once they started, the visions always took their course, just as those men had done on that dark, damp night. Like waking dreams – daymares - their faces would pass before my mind's eye. I would occasionally find myself curled in Esme's motherly arms, with no recollection of how or why, after having relived my hell once more. Carlisle would sit by, frustrated and powerless, grieving for me, second guessing his choice to turn someone whose last human memory was vile, heinous abuse. I did nothing to dispel his self-doubt.
He had intended to 'save' me, to resurrect my broken body and provide me with a new existence for which he thought I would be grateful. I was repulsed to discover that Carlisle had hoped I would become a companion for Edward, who then joined Carlisle as a target for my bitter resentment. No matter how many years passed, I would never be grateful for this 'life.' I had gone from being a pretty commodity in my father's house, to being used and discarded by vicious hands, only to land here, where I had just as little control over my own, now immortal, destiny.
As a 'newborn,' I was not trusted to hunt on my own. For the first few years, I existed under their ever watchful eyes, tutored in the Cullen way. Eventually, I proved my self-control and was permitted a measure of solitude. Divine freedom it was to run, knowing my course was mine to choose. Distance and direction were open to me as never before. I would escape to the wilds, hunting at ever greater distances from our home. I thought briefly of fleeing, striking out and never returning, but thoughts of Esme held me back. She and I were resigned to a shared, childless fate and took comfort in one another that neither Edward nor Carlisle could ever fully grasp. I knew I could never accept complete solitude, could never exist void of her friendship and care, and would never find another family hospitable to what I'd become. And so I always returned, hopeless and empty.
I didn't hear the bear until she was on me. I'd gotten lost in my thoughts and memories, worrying too much about feeding my family, and not enough about my own safety and surroundings. I spun around, disoriented, before I registered the crushing pain. I landed on my back, knowing immediately that I was going to die. I was bleeding badly, and there was no one for miles who could help. I got off one shot, but I wasn't sure if I'd hit her. It wouldn't matter either way. This was my end.
As the blue sky above me faded to gray, fears clouded my mind – had I chopped enough wood? Would Faye find the can I kept our cash in? Would Webb remember the hides curing in the barn? How would they get along without me? Who would find my body, and would they lay me to rest beside my family?
As my sight began to fail, an angel appeared, golden and shining. I knew her from somewhere deep in my soul, from a dream, or a lost memory. She caressed my cheek and mumbled soft words, her voice rich and sweet. "I'm no angel." She took me up into her impossibly strong arms, bearing my bulk with ease. She whisked me away, the beat of her wings strong and sure as we flew, the forest whipping past at frightening speed. Even so, I was soothed by her secure embrace, and wondered if she knew me, too. Perhaps, for a kiss, she'd tell me her name?
"Shhh," she cooed, "time enough, later."
The day I found him, I'd already been gone longer than Carlisle liked. I knew my ever-expanding hunting territory rankled him. I was working my way homeward when I came across the bear, gut shot and dying. As I approached her, I caught the scent on the shifting wind – human blood, on her face and paws, and more nearby. I followed the luscious scent to its source, where the trees parted. I found her hunter dying in a little clearing, weak from his injuries and growing pale from blood loss. The morning sun raked across his rugged face, his lush, full lips curled into a pained grimace. I knew the sunlight would reveal me as inhuman, but given that he was drawing his final breaths, it mattered little. I knelt at his side, not knowing why, but drawn to him more strongly than I could resist. He called me out, Angel, naming the one thing I most certainly was not. The timbre of his voice was raw, but deep and resonant.
"My Angel," he said again, "I'm yours, you came for me."
Our eyes met, and something within me melted. The crystal blue of his eyes, the dimpled sweetness in his awed smile and his earnest declaration took up welcome residence deep within me, filling something hollow.
His life was dwindling before me, leaking away onto the stony ground, mingling with last year's leaves, staining all it touched. I panicked, knowing the only options were to watch him die, leaving that place within me empty again, or carry him home to Carlisle. Even with all that had passed between us, my rage against the choice Carlisle made for me, I knew I would do the same for him, for this hunter, this man who lay dying at my feet, calling me angel and elevating me to something pure, his presence already firmly lodged in my heart. I knew in that moment the impossible choice Carlisle had faced with me, and I chose the same, too selfish to let him die.
"Shhh," I whispered, hoping he could save his breath to endure the journey. "Time enough to sort it all out, later."
I looked up at my Angel, her face a mask of urgent determination as we flew through the trees. She was lovely, her features bright and beautiful, her eyes a brilliant gold. I wanted to stare into them, lose myself in them. For a time, while she carried me, I did.
We must have lost our way along the journey because, though I expected to wake in heaven, the next thing I knew was hellfire.
He lost consciousness not long after I began to run. I chanted in my head for help the entire way, knowing that as soon as I was within range, Edward would hear me and alert Carlisle and Esme. Carlisle met me in the woods a few miles from home, to assess the situation. He gaped at me, shock evident on his face over what I was asking him to do.
"After you, Rose, I swore…"
"I know, and I'm sorry. But he's – I can't explain. Do this, for me. I've never once asked you for anything."
He nodded and carried my broken hunter to our home. Initiating the change was simple for Carlisle – a few strategic bites from which I carried pale scars. He would be marked the same as me.
I stayed at my hunter's side throughout his transformation. I bathed him, sitting at the edge of his bed, sponging away the evidence of the bear's attack. The strength apparent in his imposing build did not engender fear, but a longing to be embraced, to take shelter and comfort there. With every touch, I found myself growing more attached to him, anxiously anticipating his awakening. I wondered if he, too, would feel our strange connection, or rage against what he had become.
I catalogued his wounds even as they healed, and immodestly examined his powerful form. I'd never seen a grown man unclothed, never trailed my hands across masculine muscle and bone, never imagined the power lurking idly beneath his sleeping skin. At first I was ashamed of my own curiosity, recalling the cold atrocity that had been done to me, but new warmth bloomed and took hold, encouraging my brazen eyes to roam, separating the man before me from the acts of my attackers. Even though he was little more than a stranger to me, I knew that he would never touch me like they had, that he was different. As soon as that thought struck me, I felt terrible for violating him, for looking at and touching what was not given to me freely. I covered him with a sheet, and swept my hand across his cheek. "Forgive me," I whispered, and resumed my vigil from a more ladylike distance.
At times, Carlisle and Esme joined me. At others, Edward sat nearby, listening to my thoughts as I tried to explain my choice, my irrefutable bond to a nameless foundling. Hour by hour he listened as I fought for the right words, but he was unable to see past his own logic and ethics. As noble as he tried to be, I think he simply resented that I'd found something he couldn't. Any sympathy I ever felt for his loneliness died. How could you begrudge someone companionship?
On the third day, my hunter's heart gave one final leap, and then stilled forever. Would his first words be spoken in anger, or gratitude? Would he listen and embrace his new existence, or fall into despair? Would he recognize me again as his Angel, or was that just a near-death hallucination? Would his newborn blood lust blind him to all else?
He raised a shaking hand to his throat and swallowed, then blinked against the harsh light. His mind remembered movement and sight, but not the keen perception and exaggerated strength of his new body.
"You're safe," I said. "You feel strange, yes?"
He nodded, squinting his eyes closed and swallowing again.
"Your throat hurts, and the light is too bright, even though you know the shade is down. You hear and smell new things, too many things at once."
He turned his head toward my voice. "Yes," he croaked, swallowing once more. He slowly opened his eyes, and recognition widened them. "Angel? It wasn't a dream? I burned in hell…"
I knelt at his bedside and stroked his face, overcome with emotion. "Tell me your name?"
He smiled. "Emmett."
"Emmett," I said, his name a sweet sigh in my mouth.
"My name is Rosalie," she said. "I'm not an angel, or a dream. I'm real, and you're in New York, and after you understand why, I pray you don't think me a nightmare."
I reached for her hand, pale and small and warm. With my other hand, I touched her cheek, trailing a fingertip down to her parted lips. I licked my own, suddenly aware of the dry burn still nagging in my throat. She moved closer and before I though better of it, I leaned up and kissed her. My whole body felt tight, pulled like a bowstring. My arms ached to pull her close, my whole body hungry to hold her. Before I could act on the urge, I heard footsteps nearby. I leapt up from the bed and pulled her behind me, dropping to a crouch between her and the trio in the doorway, clad in nothing but the bed sheet tangled around my waist. I felt her soft hand on my bare shoulder.
"Emmett, it's alright. They're here with me."
I tightened the sheet with one hand and stood to my full height, watching the intruders' eyes grow wide. One of the men, the fair-haired one, stepped forward. He didn't seem to be a threat. My Angel, Rosalie, told me he could be trusted, but I still held her behind me with one hand on her hip.
"My name is Carlisle Cullen. This is Esme," he said, indicating the woman behind him, "and this is Edward. Welcome to our home." Esme stepped up and took his hand, them smiled and offered a quiet 'hello.' Edward remained in the doorway, but nodded his head when Esme spoke.
"Emmett McCarty," I said, taking my hand from Rosalie's hip and holding it out to him.
He shook my hand and smiled. "Why don't you get dressed and come downstairs? I know you have questions, and you'll need to …eat, soon."
The thought of food made my throat burn, and I rubbed it absently as Esme laid out some clothes. "Yeah, I could use something to drink."
He sat on the sofa, holding my hand as he digested Carlisle's description of our world. Never once did he flinch or lose his temper. Even discussing hunting animals for their blood didn't faze him. When Carlisle broached the subject of our one law - secrecy - he pulled me ever closer, until we were wrapped in each other's arms. I knew that he grieved the loss of his family.
"I'm sorry," I said. "I couldn't leave you there to die."
"Shh," he comforted. "I'm sad, but I said my goodbyes before you found me. After the bear, I never expected to see them again, anyway."
I nodded silently.
"How did you become… like this?"
I couldn't look in his eyes, couldn't bear to tell him. I was grateful when Edward spoke for me.
"Carlisle was turned by a nomadic coven back in the 1640's. He found me dying of the Spanish influenza in 1918, and Esme a few years later. Rosalie's been with us about two years."
Emmett glanced at Edward once or twice as he spoke, but mainly watched my face. I think he could tell my story would be painful and, to his credit, didn't press the issue.
"Soon. I'll tell you soon, alright?"
He brushed my cheek with the backs of his fingers. "We have forever, now, right?"
He followed me into the forest, laughing at the speed and strength of our bodies, and at being 'taught' to hunt all over again.
"I've hunted all my life!"
"This is different," I said. "Trust me."
I found the small herd of elk and told him to just let go, follow his instinct. He downed a massive bull in seconds, draining it cleanly. A new heat burned within me as I watched him; a bone-deep need that surpassed blood lust. His strength and agility, his calm confidence, all combined, rendering me aching for things I'd associated with my death. things I'd never thought I would want to experience, things I associated with pain, violence and degradation. My head swam as I tried to reconcile my body's sudden yearning. I wanted to offer myself to him, wanted to claim him as my lover, but my past still haunted me, jabbing at my mind from dark corners of my consciousness.
Emmett's booming laughter brought me back from bleak despair, back to our hunting ground and the glory of his first kill. For now, the ghosts retreated to their hiding places, letting me share this incredible moment with Emmett. He ran to me, sweeping me up in his massive arms, twirling me around like a small child, elated.
"Oh Rose, my Angel! Does it always feel like this?"
"How does it feel?" I asked, giggling and dizzy on my feet.
"I feel… alive! I feel drunk and happy and powerful and… oh Rose, I want to kiss you." He cupped my face sweetly, smiling, his eyes pleading for my consent. "Can I kiss you?"
I laughed. "Drunk, happy and powerful – yes, it will always feel like that when we feed. It wanes a bit, as the intensity of your first few years pass, but it never goes away."
"And this?" he asked, pulling me closer, dragging his nose along my jaw. "Is it like this with everyone, when we hunt?"
"I've only ever hunted with Carlisle, Esme and Edward… but I've never felt like this, Emmett. Never heard tell of anything like what I feel."
"So, you feel it, too?"
"Oh, Em. I felt it when I found you dying in the forest, and every minute since. Yes."
He smiled, his eyes glittering crimson and honey, dimples flashing mischief and desire. Before I could think, his lips were on mine, warm and firm, parted slightly in invitation. My fingers found their home, twined in his wild curls as our mouths claimed one another, dancing and challenging, playful and daring, delicate and curious.
He pulled my body close to his, aligning us, fitting us together effortlessly. He pulled me down to the ground, first to our knees, and then reclining side by side as we continued to kiss and explore. He rolled to hover above me, desire blazing between us. "I'm so sorry, my Angel. I'm just a rough country boy, not the kind of man you're used to…"
I shuddered at the thought of what I was 'used to,' then pushed it away, locked it away. "No, but you're everything that's right. Everything I need. From the moment I saw you…"
He shredded our clothes, leaving us both bare on the forest floor. Never for a moment did I hesitate to welcome him into my body, never once did I fear his touch. He took me, made me his, awakened me. In his eyes, all I saw was tenderness and adoration. In his arms I felt beautiful and perfect and whole. He cared for my pleasure, tantalized me with thoughts of what the future might hold as we grew and learned together. Every movement of his body brought us closer, and spoke to me in wordless ways that this was what a man was, this was what love should be. He filled me, brimming over, with his passion and devotion and gratitude. I lay, spent, in his arms, recalling how perfectly we fit together, eager to experience it again, finally happy to see what each new day might bring.
She called me an angel, that day. An angel in disguise, she said. She told me her story as we lay there under the endless blue sky, naked and reborn. Told me what they'd done to her body, and what it had done to her soul. I raged, and wept, brokenhearted at the thought of her used and left to die, and facing an endless uncertain future she would never have chosen.
"You saved me, Em," she said, caressing my face, tracing the line of my brow and my jaw. "I would have gone through eternity alone, hating everything, everyone. I don't feel alone any more."
"Oh, Angel, you're stuck with me, now."
I was overwhelmed. Three days prior I was hunting to feed my family, shouldering my absent father's burden, dreaming of a different, impossible, path. While I grieved for the kin I'd left behind, my Angel had saved me not just from a cold and empty death, but from a cold and empty life.
"I told you, Em. I'm not an angel. Far from it."
"You are to me."
"But you saved me, Em. You're the angel. All I did was carry you to Carlisle. You did something far greater."
"What's that?" I asked, brushing a stray leaf from her hair.
She smiled, brilliant and strong. "You gave me something to look forward to. You gave me you."
A/N i owe a huge thanks to TheHeartofLife for her generous beta/pre-read services! MWAH!
thank you for reading!