Dream of Something Else Instead
A/N: This was written as a submission for the Fandom For Sexual Assault Awareness compilation. This is a pre-take about Alice and Rosalie. If you contributed, thank you. It's a very important cause that should be dear to all of our hearts.
Waking up was the worst part of the day.
It topped dealing with her mother's nervous energy. Esme had taken to babbling around her – anything and everything that came to mind as long as it was inconsequential. Every day she was there with her forced smiles and, 'why don't we go see a movie, sweetheart?' and 'are you sure you won't have anything to eat?' It didn't escape Rosalie that her mother looked everywhere but directly in her eyes.
Worse than dealing with her mother was dealing with her father. Carlisle wore guilt on his sleeve, and Rosalie wished he wouldn't look her in the eye so she couldn't see it there. When she was still in the clinic – when all of her secrets came out – he wouldn't stop apologizing. He was so sorry. He should have known. Dammit, he could recognize the signs of abuse and trauma in other people's children, why not his own? He'd failed her. And Rosalie heard it over and over again until she couldn't stand it anymore. She'd screamed at him not to say it again, never again. He found a way around his promise. He said he was sorry at the slightest provocation. If they bumped into each other in the hallway he was sorry, he was sorry to bother her, sorry to interrupt, sorry for taking the last Pepsi from the refrigerator.
But she would rather hear her father's constant stream of apologies if she didn't have to see her older brother's helplessness. For Emmett, life had always been simple. If it felt good to him, he usually did it. He was all about that relaxed atmosphere. Of course, he'd had his challenges balancing feeling good with the right thing to do, but he'd come to a place where nothing was overly serious and almost everything could be laughed away. When things got too tense, he joked, but even when she wanted to, Rosalie found she couldn't laugh. Emmett would have pulverized the people who hurt her, who lead her down the path of her destruction, but they were untouchable or already in prison. This was something he couldn't help her laugh off or make better with his physical strength. The lost expression on his face twisted whatever was left of her heart.
Even then, Emmett's helplessness was preferable to her twin's anger. How many times had Edward tried to pull her back from the ledge? He knew a part of her that no one else would ever be able to understand. He'd known the moment she was in trouble. For years, he'd tried to get her to talk to him, tried to steer her back toward the straight and narrow. He'd tried everything from yelling to pleading for her to get help. He'd cleaned up more of her messes than the press would ever know about, and at the end of it all, he couldn't keep her from self destruction. And he was pissed about it. He spoke to her through gritted teeth, obviously struggling not to scream. His eyes, when he could bring himself to look at her, were fire.
Worse than all of that, every single day, was the first few moments she opened her eyes. For precious seconds she would wake in her parents' house and imagine she was safe. Her parents doted on her. Her brother adored her. Her twin shared her every thought. She was loved and lovely. Then reality set in. Everything she saw in her family was a reflection of the chaos inside of her. She was ashamed, guilty, helpless and angry. And Jesus Christ she wanted a hit. She woke to a world that was frightening because it seemed like everyone wanted something from her and no one was trustworthy. Since the clinic, she'd been outside only a handful of times. Everywhere she went she felt like people were staring at her. She felt like they were judging her... or they knew. It made her defensive and nervous.
She was so sick of always being on edge.
The door swung open, and Rosalie burrowed further under the covers with a groan, not ready to face her family.
"Blankets don't make you invisible, Rose," an amused voice said.
Rosalie perked up, peeking over the edge of the blanket. "Alice," she said on a breath, the pressure around her chest and the weight on her shoulders lessening just slightly.
Alice didn't answer right away. She busied herself flitting around the room, opening blinds and picking up dirty clothes. Squinting against the sunlight, Rosalie pulled herself into a sitting position. "Don't... you shouldn't do that," she said, wishing she felt like she had the energy to get out of bed and stop Alice. "You don't have to do that."
"I don't have to do anything I don't want to do," the other woman replied drolly. Rosalie was about to protest again but Alice shot her an exasperated look. "Talking isn't going to stop me," she warned.
Anger - still white hot, raw and unfiltered, boiled through Rosalie's veins. "No? Then how about this? This is my room in my house. I don't want to see you. I don't want to see anyone. Get. Out." Even as the words were leaving her mouth - shooting with the strength and vengeance of a fired missile - Rosalie wanted to recall them. I didn't mean it, her thoughts screamed, but her body was out of whack. Her eyes were narrowed, her lips pressed into a tight, thin line, and her hands were clenched in fists of rage.
It had its intended effect. Alice stilled, and Rosalie was glad she was facing away. For everything she had already been through, it felt like some small slice of her was withering in whatever was left of her heart. Part of her wanted it that way. She thought of her heart like the petal of a red rose, blackening around the edges. Eventually, she could crush it between her fingers and brush it away into fine, powdery pieces that couldn't hurt her anymore.
Alice breathed deeply and when she turned around, she was smiling, though Rosalie noticed she no longer looked at her directly. "Fine, if that's what you want. I wouldn't want to trespass, after all." Her voice was light, carefree, but Rose could hear the edge. She was trying to pretend she wasn't hurt.
Keeping her eyes trained on the ground, Rosalie watched Alice's shoes cross the room. Stop. Please don't go. The words stuck in her throat, causing a painful lump she could scarcely swallow around. The raven haired woman stopped at the door but only sighed and left.
The room was too silent when she was gone. Rosalie sat still on the bed, waiting for the phantom ache at the center of her chest to subside. It had to have a peak. It had to come down somehow. Her head swam, and she ached for the days when she could make it all just go away.
Putting her head down between her knees, she breathed deeply and slowly, thinking about calling her sponsor. Not that she could use even if she really wanted to - she'd never get out the door without relentless questions from her parents - but Heidi would understand the urge.
But then, she'd have to explain what prompted it and would want to know why - of everyone Rosalie had to face - Alice was the one she couldn't stand to disappoint.
Feeling like she would cry if she kept still - and Rosalie hated crying - she got up quickly. She looked around, needing to wrap her mind around something - anything else.
Her eyes flitted over to her computer but she knew if she turned it on, she would have to face e-mails from her well meaning friends. They sent her links to articles; the paparazzi had taken her picture when she went out the week previous - hair in a ponytail, large, dark glasses obscuring her tired eyes and no make up to speak of. They didn't understand how she could let herself be seen like that. They were trying to bring the old her back so they could pretend their world was beautiful and she hadn't had a nasty, very public break down.
So her computer remained off. Rosalie considered showering, but right then she didn't need so much as five minutes of alone time with her own head. Instead, she padded downstairs, needing to keep her mind occupied.
Esme and Carlisle were in the kitchen; she could hear them talking. Desperately in need of a distraction, and not altogether unsure that she didn't want to pick a fight with someone, Rosalie walked in their direction.
It didn't take long for her parents to spark her irritation. The look of surprise they shared and quickly tried to cover was all it took to set her teeth on edge. Esme offered her a sandwich with the crusts cut off, lessening the strength of Rosalie's anger slightly but then her father father ruined it all. He reached for the mustard at the same time she did and instantly pulled his hand back, apologizing.
Rosalie picked up her plate just so she could slam it back down. The loud clatter was satisfying and a fitting accompaniment to her tone. "Stop. Saying. That," she snapped at her father. "I'm not made of fucking glass. Just stop it!"
She didn't miss the stricken look on Carlisle's face as she pushed her chair back and stormed back upstairs.
Emmett was more ingenious than Rosalie had given him credit for. He found a way to make her laugh before she could help herself. Rosalie woke giggling because he was tickling her foot, holding her ankle so firmly that no matter how she twisted and squealed, she couldn't get away.
"Em! Em! Stop it!" she screamed between titters.
Chuckling, Emmett let her go and climbed up the bed. He laid down behind her, wrapping her in his arms for a bear hug. "Happy birthday."
Rosalie chuffed but didn't say anything, snuggling back in her brother's arms and letting herself feel safe for just a few moments.
"Get up. I have a surprise for you."
"Emmett," Rosalie groaned. "Jesus, what time is it anyway?"
"Too fucking early, that's what time it is," he said, his voice way too cheerful for...
"Fuck! It's 6:30 in the morning. What the hell, Emmett?" she protested, turning to face her big brother.
He was grinning at her mischievously, in his element now that he'd gotten a giggle out of her. "Well, I know how long it takes you to get ready. So hurry your ass up." He laid on his back, his hands behind his head as he relaxed on her bed. When she didn't move, only glaring at him, Emmett raised one eyebrow. "Little sister, I will take you out back and hose you down if you don't get moving."
Rosalie squinted, scowling at her brother, but she was trying not to smile. She had no doubt that Emmett would follow through on his promise, so she dragged herself out of bed. "Fuck, fine. You are such a pain in the ass."
Emmett waggled his eyebrows. "That's what my wife told me last night."
"Emmett! Ew! Much more information that I needed, thanks." Her brother's laugh followed her as she shut herself in the bathroom.
Emmett had rented out an indoor go-kart racing rink for a few hours that morning. It was just the two of them, for which Rosalie was grateful. It was just a little easier when it was only Emmett she had to contend with.
Still, though, the effort of trying to keep her smile on when she wasn't screaming around the track was exhausting. She didn't want to disappoint her brother, but she couldn't keep her mind from wandering, wanting to wrap around heavier thoughts. The attendant made her nervous because she could see the way his eyes raked over her. It reminded her of the runway and how that hungry look of desire was what she craved - what told her she'd done everything right. But look where that had led her.
It was hard enough dealing with all the things going on in her own head: battling her addictions as she tried to grapple with the guilt and shame she could no longer hide behind drugs and alcohol. Keeping up a mask - that she was fine and happy - was too much to ask for.
So when they got back home, Rosalie retreated to her room again.
No one bothered her for hours. Rosalie was beginning to think that getting what you want on your birthday wasn't such a bad concept after all when a knock on her door stirred her out of her drowsy state.
"Everyone's waiting for you to come downstairs," Esme said, sitting on the bed and stroking Rosalie's long hair.
"Waiting for what?" Rosalie groused, closing her eyes briefly because, despite her irritated tone, her mother's fingers combing through her hair was a pleasant, comforting sensation.
"To celebrate, of course."
Oh, right. This was why she was dreading her birthday. "I don't feel like celebrating."
"Rose," her mother began, her voice soft and pleading. "It would mean so much to Edward."
"Edward," Rosalie repeated her brother's name a little harshly. "All Edward does is yell at me."
"He doesn't yell-"
"Oh, it's the same thing, Mom," Rosalie interrupted. "Just because he doesn't raise his voice doesn't mean he's not yelling." She hated the way her voice wavered at the end, betraying just how hurt she was at her twin's reproof. Some logical part of her knew it was only fair. She'd pushed him away so often and with much harsher words than he'd ever used toward her. How could she expect him to still be waiting when she was finally ready to stop being stupid?
"It's your birthday too," Esme said firmly. "He'll be on his best behavior."
Rosalie rolled her eyes at her mother's belief she still had any control over her extremely pig-headed twins. She sighed. "Fine."
As it turned out, Esme was right. Rosalie had no sooner gotten to the bottom of the stairs before her twin was there, hugging her so hard that her feet actually left the ground. She hugged him back just as tight, her smile genuine for the first time in what felt like years.
When he set her down, Edward merely smirked at her. "Happy birthday, twin," he said at the same time she did. They grinned at each other, and then it was easier to let the rest of her family hug her. Carlisle. Emmett. Tanya.
"Alice?" Rosalie was startled when she finally realized that it wasn't just her family in the room. Alice stood next to a blond woman around her same height and build. Instantly, Rosalie was wary of the other woman, wondering her relationship to Alice.
Wondering why she cared...
"Hey," Alice greeted, smiling and looking like she wanted to hug Rosalie. Then she cast a disapproving look in Emmett's direction. "You look surprised to see me. I was told you knew."
"It's okay," Rosalie said quickly, her eyes still on the blond woman who met her gaze steadily. "Who's your... friend?"
Alice looped her arm through the other woman's and grinned, making Rosalie instantly want to yank them apart. "This is Charlotte. She and I live together and work together."
Rosalie had to try very hard to keep the disinterested look on her face. It was amazing how much those simple words hurt, twisting her insides in a way entirely new to her. She found herself nodding. "That's nice," she lied. She turned to her family. "So, are we eating or what?"
The rest of the night, Rosalie found analyzing every move Alice and Charlotte made. Internally, she picked apart every flaw she found in the blond woman's physique and character. Her nose was too pointy, her laugh sounded like a braying donkey, she didn't pay near enough attention to Alice. If it was Rosalie with Alice, she'd have...
A sharp kick to her ankle broke her venomous line of thought and she raised her head. Across from her, her twin was innocently cutting off a piece of steak. He looked up from under his eyelashes, his eyes fixing her with an intense, disproving look. His eyes flicked over to Charlotte and back. She couldn't have heard his message clearer if he'd spoken out loud.
She'd been glaring at the other woman. It was obvious - at least to Edward.
Rosalie quickly wiped her hands and mouth, taking a long drink of water. Then she stood and quietly excused herself, needing a moment alone.
She hadn't been outside on the porch for more than a couple of minutes before the door opened. Rosalie sighed into the darkness, wondering who'd come after her.
"Hey, birthday girl." The gentle, tinkling voice made Rosalie's heart ache and sing at the same time. "Want some company?"
Feigning nonchalance, Rosalie shrugged. "Free country and all."
Alice stepped up to the balcony, leaning on the railing next to her. "Oh, I thought this was your house. Your rules." Her voice was light enough that Rosalie knew she was teasing, but there was hurt behind her words.
"Alice..." Rosalie began, her voice soft and regretful. She breathed in through her nose and blew that breath out slowly, reminding herself of everything she learned in rehab about taking responsibility and learning to say she was sorry. "That was... uncalled for." She looked over. Contrition had never been the easiest act for her, but Rosalie found that she did want Alice's forgiveness. "I'm really sorry I kicked you out of the house."
The other woman's face almost glowed. "Thank you, Rose. I know you've been through a lot. I understand."
The two women were silent as they looked out over the sprawling backyard. "So," Rosalie began, knowing she was potentially opening up a can of worms she didn't want to acknowledge but unable to stop herself anyway. Maybe battling her addictions had sapped all her available willpower... "How long have you and Charlotte been together?"
Out of the corner of her eye, Rosalie saw Alice shoot her a startled, hopeful look before she calmed it again. "Charlotte and I aren't together," she said flatly.
Rosalie's heart gave a ridiculous little leap. "But you live together."
"Yes," Alice said, drawing out the word. "We're roommates. Some of us need help covering the California rent," she teased.
A huge grin threatened to spread over Rosalie's face and she only barely contained it to a smug smile. Silence descended on them again, and she searched for a topic of conversation, not ready to let this little bubble that seemed to have enveloped them go.
"Do you miss Mississippi?"
Alice tilted her head, looking up at the sky. "Not really. I miss the stars... But I think California suits me better. Sunshine without being muggy, you have beaches, and deserts and mountains."
"Oh, my," Rosalie quipped, and both women smiled.
"Do you miss it? Or anywhere you lived, really?" Alice asked quietly.
"No," Rosalie answered truthfully. "I miss who I was in Mississippi."
Alice's answering laugh surprised Rosalie enough that she turned slightly. The raven haired woman's eyes were sparkling with amusement, and something that Rosalie thought, for one fleeting moment, might be a level of adoration. "You think you're all that different from the girl you were?"
Frowning, Rosalie furrowed her eyebrows at her one-time friend. "What do you mean? I'm nothing like I wanted to be when we were young."
"First of all," Alice began, drawing herself up to her full height, "you're still young. You're still smart and stubborn. And I know we talked about being movie stars, but look at all you've accomplished, being a model."
Rosalie scoffed. "Yeah, look where that got me."
Alice was quiet for a moment as the air around them became heavy. "You know... your dreams coming true doesn't mean that you never struggle. It was a terrible thing that happened to you, Rosie," her voice was soft and fervent, "but I've watched you for years. When the camera is on you... you're in your element. Tell me it didn't make you happy - when you were actually working."
Then it was Rosalie's turn to be silent. As much as she wanted to refute the words, she couldn't. There was too much truth there. In reality, she ached to return to work - though what work she didn't really know. She hated that she was scared of trusting the wrong people and being too vulnerable again.
Rosalie was startled when she felt a hand over hers. When she looked up, Alice had moved closer and now wrapped her fingers around Rosalie's, smiling knowingly. "It's just a roadblock, honey," she said steadily. "You'll get through this and be stronger than ever. That's who you are." Alice drew the knuckles of her free hand down Rosalie's arm, her eyes watching her own movements before she looked back up. "Strong...and beautiful."
Coming from Alice's lips, Rosalie actually believed those words. After months of doubt and feeling so pathetically weak, Rosalie finally felt like she was able to stand tall again. Her heart thudded, seeming to fill her chest cavity for the first time in what may have been forever. In those moments, she didn't feel empty. She felt...
And a little dizzy.
Her breath stuttered as she realized she'd stopped breathing at some point. Time suspended, and all she could see or think about was how she wanted to express this almost giddy warmth that spread through her chest, pumping through her veins with every beat of her heart.
She wanted to kiss Alice. It was a desire so strong it matched, and in some ways exceeded, the cravings she'd experienced for alcohol or-
"I can't!" she exclaimed, turning away from Alice just as her head had begun to tilt downward. "I mean..." She lifted her arm, the one Alice had been stroking, and brought the back of her hand to her suddenly clammy cheek. "This is... I don't... need this kind of complication."
Alice drew back, sucking in a breath as if she'd been slapped. "This kind of complication..." she echoed.
"You don't understand," Rosalie stumbled. "I just... I've been dealing with so much and everyone would think..."
"Would think what, Rose?" Alice demanded.
Rosalie looked up at Alice, her thoughts thick with shame and confusion. Alice just scoffed and looked away, her hands balling into fists as she stared out across the backyard.
And suddenly Rosalie was livid. How dare Alice come here and make her think she was fourteen all over again? The truth was that Rosalie was nothing like that girl. She was too jaded to be optimistic. "Maybe you should go," she said, her voice cold.
Alice let out an exasperated growl. "Fine. Whatever you want. Happy birthday," she said shortly.
As the door behind her slammed, Rosalie screwed her eyes tightly shut. She struggled to breathe, feeling sick to her stomach and struggling to not burst into tears. She wished fervently for some small measure of time where life made sense again, where she was sure of herself and in control.
Again, she wasn't outside alone for long before the door opened. This time she knew exactly who it was. Rosalie turned as he approached, falling into his arms without looking and hoping he wasn't still so angry that he wouldn't hold her. Right then, she needed her twin's support.
Edward sighed, wrapping his arms around her and rocking slightly, a silent assurance that no matter what, he was going to be there when she really, really needed him.
She let him lead her to the porch swing. There, she lay her head on his chest, letting a few tears slip from the corner of her eyes as she caught her breath again.
"Can I ask you something?" Edward asked, his voice quiet and for once as unassuming as their father's.
Sniffling, Rosalie gave a little groan. "I've never been able to stop you."
He rubbed her back as he spoke, obviously turning his words over carefully before he said them out loud. "Why is Alice the only one you push away?"
Rosalie stiffened, biting back the urge to ask him how he knew it'd happened more than once. This was Edward - he just knew, and though Rosalie told herself that she had a good answer, she couldn't seem to find it. Instead, she turned her thoughts to long held regrets. "She wants to pretend like we're still kids - like all those years that separated us didn't happen." Her voice reeked of bitterness as she spoke. "But Mom and Dad destroyed all of that."
Edward shifted, pushing her gently upright so he could look her in the eyes. "You know, Rose," he began, not unkindly, "at some point, you're going to have to stop playing the victim."
Blinking sporadically at her brother, Rosalie wrapped her arms around herself. "If we hadn't-"
"Life happened the way it happened. I'm not saying that they made the best choice," he said before she could argue. "I'm saying - you always missed her. You never stopped missing her. Well she's here now, and Mom and Dad aren't keeping her away. They can't keep her away. You're the only one who's doing that."
Looking away, Rosalie felt a flash of irritation go down your spine. "Why do you care about her anyway?"
"Alice was practically like a sister to me. And besides, as far as I'm concerned, she saved your life," he pointed out. "But really, Rose? I care more about you. I know it's been hard on you because you lost most of your old friends in this ... mess. Alice is exactly the kind of friend you should have."
"She wants the old me," Rosalie reiterated. Who could blame her? Rosalie wanted her old self back too.
"I don't know why you keep saying that," Edward admitted. It was a rare thing when one twin could keep a secret from the other. "She was the one who talked you into rehab, Rose. Every time you've pushed her away, she's kept coming back." He put his hands on her shoulders and turned her slightly to face him. "Alice accepts you - good, bad and ugly." He ruffled her hair playfully, making the corner of Rosalie's lip quirk upward despite herself.
Edward sighed, putting his arm around her and holding her close. "You let her help you when you wouldn't even let me help you," he murmured. "I don't understand why you're so scared of her now that you're getting better."
Rosalie didn't like the word afraid, and she definitely didn't like it applying to her. For over a week after their birthday, Edward's question still plagued her.
Why did Alice scare her so much?
She understood her own fear in other arenas. It still irritated the ever loving hell out of her, but she understood. But her time with Alice was the brightest spot in her childhood - what was frighting about Alice as an adult?
And the more Rosalie dwelt on the subject, the more she had to face that she had feelings for Alice that weren't... usual.
Rosalie had been face to face with Hollywood movie stars, gorgeous men and women and hadn't so much as batted an eyelash. Yet here was this woman - this tiny woman with a bohemian sense of style and a job in a tiny shop on the boardwalk, and Rosalie was undone. When she thought of Alice, her face flushed. Sometimes she grinned hard, because remembering the way Alice laughed made Rosalie smile. Sometimes her heart twisted because...
Because she was scared.
As much as Rosalie could try to convince herself it was just a resurgence of her smitten, 14 year old self, she couldn't be certain. She needed to talk to Alice. She needed to at least sort out some of the messy state her mind was in, and she needed to face this fear.
That's how Rosalie found herself on the Santa Monica Pier, looking for the little shop she'd heard Alice describe to Esme. Henna tattoos - who'd have guessed anyone could make a living off of it?
Rosalie knew she had the right place when she spotted Charlotte bent over the ankle of a young girl. Her heart beat hard, her stomach twinging as she looked around, seeing if she could spot Alice. Then she found herself frowning when she realized Alice wasn't there.
She cleared her throat, stepping all the way inside the shop and pressing herself against the wall. Reluctantly, she shoved her hood down and took off her sunglasses so that Charlotte could recognize her.
The other woman's eyes narrowed as she looked up. "Can I help you?" she asked in a clipped tone, looking back at her work.
"I really need to talk to Alice," Rosalie started, reminding herself not to be annoyed at Charlotte.
Charlotte looked up again, searching her eyes before she looked over at a man who was hunkered down in the empty seat, his nose buried in a magazine. "Santiago, can you take over for just a minute?"
Santiago looked over, his nose and mouth screwed up in displeasure. "I'm on break."
"I'll make it up to you," Charlotte promised.
Reluctantly, Santiago switched places, and Charlotte led Rosalie outside. "Listen," the petite blond woman began, "I am sick to death of the way you treat Alice. Every time she goes out to see you, she comes back as near to tears as I've ever seen her."
Rosalie's heart ached with regret, beating out her annoyance at Charlotte sticking her nose where it didn't belong. Reminding herself again of taking responsibility for her actions, Rosalie nodded carefully. "I've been horrible to Alice," she said sincerely. "I know that. I'm not going to offer you any excuses. Just please... give me the chance to make it up to her."
Again, Charlotte studied her carefully. Then she sighed. "Fine. But I swear to God, if you fuck this up, I don't give a shit who the hell you are, I will kick your ass."
Rosalie fought a smirk because she was fairly sure she could take the diminutive woman easily. Instead, she nodded her acceptance of those terms. Charlotte gave her a set of simple directions.
The two women lived in a part of Los Angeles that Rosalie had never been in. It wasn't scary per se - it just wasn't as clean and well kept as she was used to. As she pulled up to the address Charlotte had given her, Rosalie wondered if she'd ever been in an apartment that wasn't a penthouse.
But all of her scattered thoughts drifted away when the door opened. Alice stood there, blinking in surprise. And though she was ridiculously nervous, her heart pounding away at a mile a minute, Rosalie couldn't help but feel that she'd made the right decision in coming here.
"Alice - why do you keep coming back when I treat you like shit?" she blurted.
As conversation starters went, Rosalie could have done better, but her head was too cluttered and if she started to think before she spoke, she was certain that she was going to get scared again.
Alice looked shocked. "What? Rose..."
"I'm sorry. I'm really sorry for everything I've done and said lately. You didn't deserve it. You've only ever been kind to me and all I do is hur-"
"Rosalie!" Alice stopped her. "For goodness sakes, come inside." She reached out, grabbing Rosalie by the arm and hauling her into the apartment. She sighed. "I have no idea what you're talking about, but I don't want to hear apologies from you."
"No," Alice said, a stern warning look in her eyes. "I knew you'd come to your senses eventually." She simpered, looking pleased with herself. "No apology necessary. Besides, if you piss me off, this is my house now, and I can run you out."
Laughing, Alice ushered her in, giving her a tour of the little space she and Charlotte called home. It was a little run down, but it was clean and homey. Alice's room, though, was like stepping into a whole different world.
Though the room itself was tiny, the space was very well used. Each piece of spare wall, or corner of furniture was adorned with flair. The colors in here were bright and vibrant, but somehow not too overwhelming - not unlike Alice herself.
"Wow," Rosalie breathed when her eyes found a painstakingly pieced together mosaic of colored tiles on the ceiling. She sat as she gaped, and ended up laying down on the bed just so she could keep staring without hurting her neck. "You did this?" she asked in awe.
Alice nodded, sitting on the opposite side of the bed. "It's a hobby, I guess," she said amiably.
"It's beautiful," Rosalie said honestly. She looked over at Alice, her eyes sad as she thought of all the things she'd missed in her friend's life. "When did you learn how to do that?"
And for once, conversation between them seemed to flow naturally. Since Rosalie had consciously put her guard down the minute she'd made the decision to come find Alice, it was easier for her to simply lose herself in the blank space between the people she and Alice had been, and the people they'd become. They simply talked, making up for lost time while skirting around painful issues. Rosalie didn't talk about her agent or Royce or the drugs, and Alice didn't talk about exactly what it had taken to pick herself back up after the Cullens abandoned her years before.
Instead, the two women talked about friends and new talents. Eventually, as was natural, they asked each other about relationships, and that was when Rosalie began to feel self conscious again.
"It's just..." Rosalie took a deep breath, her eyes getting a little glassy as she thought back. "A lot of the girls... they did things. Together I mean." Her eyes flitted up toward the ceiling, not concentrating on anything in particular. "They did a lot of things period. Sometimes I would let them kiss me. And sometimes they were very gentle and sweet, and sometimes they were harder...deeper kisses. But it didn't matter. No matter how they kissed me, it never felt..."
Her voice had dwindled to less than a whisper. If only to hear her better, Alice's face was close to hers on the pillow. "What didn't you feel?" she asked, her soft voice as smooth and beautiful as a choir of bells.
Rosalie laughed - just a huff of air as two tears traced down her cheek. "You probably don't even remember."
Alice lifted her hand, brushing the back of her knuckles over Rosalie's cheek to wipe away the wetness there. "What, Rosie?" she said again.
Alice's silk-soft skin against her cheek seemed to spark a hidden warmth in the pit of her body. For long months - years if she was being honest with herself - Rosalie felt chilled to the bone. Yet she was discovering a plume of heat - a candle sparked from a long ignored ember - that was chasing away the coldness inside of her.
And she remembered.
Who knew what they were giggling about back then. They were 14 - what did they have to frown about? Rosalie remembered that they were rolling on Alice's bed, laughing together, but as their flailing calmed they found themselves tangled. Alice's head was on Rosalie's shoulder, their feet tangled together innocently. Their titters became less frequent, and the air around them had a strange energy.
Then Alice had pushed herself up, or maybe Rosalie ducked down. It didn't matter. All that mattered was that their lips found each other.
They were innocent kisses. As far as first kisses went, it could have been a lot more awkward. Then again, it could have been smoother. But what had stayed with Rosalie through all the years they were apart was the emotion behind it. It was simply... right. There was a peace she found that day, with Alice's tiny, lithe body pressing against hers, that she never was able to recapture. It didn't matter who she was kissing - boy or girl - it always felt off.
Alice shifted then, rolling onto her side completely. Brushing Rosalie's hair back from her face, she leaned down slowly, eyes just slightly uncertain and waiting for the other woman to protest. Rosalie's heart started to pound, but she didn't even consider moving. She was watching Alice's lips, remembering how they tasted like bubblegum lip gloss the last time "Do you mean this? Is this what I wouldn't remember?" the raven-haired woman whispered.
Just like the teenagers they once were, Alice leaned down just as Rosalie tilted her head up. Their lips met - Rosalie's pouting upper lip caught lightly between both of Alice's - kissing once, twice. The flicker of warmth at the center of Rosalie's being got stronger, brighter. She leaned forward, resisting the urge to whimper when Alice pulled away.
But before Rosalie could start to doubt, letting fear and insecurity chase away the tranquility she'd felt for the first time since she was a child, Alice smiled. It was such a beatific smile that it made Rose's heart ache in a strangely pleasant way. "Is that what you missed?"
"Yes," Rose admitted on a breath. Her body was trembling. She felt naked and utterly vulnerable, but the peace of Alice's presence was keeping her safe. She ran her fingers through the midnight-dark hair, stroking lightly. "It's never felt like that."
Slowly, Alice's smile melted, her look serious and her voice raw with emotion. "You asked why I kept coming back here... after everything?"
Alice looked her in the eyes - deep, fathomless black to Rosalie's bashful, hopeful blue. "Because you're home, Rosalie." A smile tugged at the edges of her mouth. "Home is where the heart is, you know," she teased, breaking some of the intensity that was building between them, bringing it back to a level that wasn't as terrifying. Her face was serious again then as she pulled the pad of a single finger across Rosalie's lips. "My heart has always been yours. I've known that since that very first kiss."
"I'm a wreck, Ali," Rosalie said, her voice breaking at the end. "You don't want to live here."
"Shhhh," Alice soothed. She rolled over, moving herself to kneel with one leg on either side of Rose's torso. She grabbed Rosalie's hands in her own, continuing to shush the other woman's tears as she kissed first her fingers then, leaning down, her lips.
Hating the tears that showed her weakness and vulnerability, Rosalie closed her eyes, trying to calm the sudden despair. The good, pure feeling that was welling in her – for Alice, because of Alice – frightened her. Good things could be tainted. Good things would be tainted.
"Rosie," Alice murmured quietly, her lips ghosting along Rosalie's cheek, and against the tip of her nose, "We're not 14 anymore. Your parents can't take you away, and I can make my own decisions to stay. Don't be afraid."
Rosalie's eyes fluttered open, surprised and wondering if Alice had picked up the ability to read minds somewhere along the way.
"You're shaking," Alice answered her unasked question. "Are you afraid of me?"
It took a minute for Rosalie to assess her own emotions. Some of the other girls she'd kissed had frightened her. They were a little more self-possessed than she was and a lot more crazy. But while Alice had a confidence about her that was more than Rosalie was capable of at the moment, her presence was also gentle. Comforting.
Home. Just like she said.
Rosalie shook her head. "Not of you," she answered softly.
Alice bent down again, kissing around her mouth. "Can I touch you?" she asked against her lips.
Nodding, Rosalie tentatively ran her fingers over Alice's arm. As Alice straightened up, Rose let her eyes roam the pleasing curvature of her body. While she found men attractive, Rosalie had always thought that womens' bodies were built with an artist's touch. It was the kind of natural beauty that one could only find in the magnificence of nature: the majesty of Niagara Falls, the grandeur of the Grand Canyon… and Alice's perfect body – lush where Rosalie trailed her hands and so much softer than a man's.
Alice was slow – in no rush. Again, Rosalie marveled in the difference between this and her other sexual encounters. Maybe it was just that she didn't have a good example to go off of, but this was a sharp contrast to her previous experiences. Where others had shoved their tongues down her throat, thrusting and dominating, Alice lapped like a cat at a saucer of milk. Her tongue teased, making Rosalie raise her head off the bed searching for more rather than being pressed down under an onslaught. Alice's hands matched her unhurried pace, stroking and petting the skin of Rosalie's neck, down to her shoulders and collarbone, and down further as her fingers undid buttons.
Sliding down her body, Alice left a slightly moist line of kisses from Rosalie's chin, across the arc of her neck, along her shoulders, and finally in a circle around her right breast. Rosalie felt her chest rise and fall rapidly, her voice strangling into quiet, needy whimpers the closer Alice got to her nipple. Finally, Alice closed her lips around one pink, hard nipple while her hands palmed the neglected breast, her thumb barely brushing Rosalie's taut left nipple.
With her hands petting and threading through Alice's long hair, Rosalie started to relax, giving herself over to the tactile sensations running through her body. Unconsciously she started to writhe, bucking her lower body up against Alice insistently.
When Alice snaked her hand between them, dipping under the hemline of Rosalie's pants to find her center, Rosalie gasped, her hips automatically rising to meet the other woman's fingers. Disengaging from her nipple with a wet pop, Alice looked up, smiling lazily with hooded eyes. "Do you like this?" she asked, circling Rosalie's clit with two fingers.
"Ali, yes," Rosalie whispered breathily.
Peppering kisses across the top of Rosalie's breasts, Alice continued to move her fingers around and inside of her. "Can I taste you, Rosie?"
Though her heart raced and her body trembled, Rosalie couldn't deny the physical reaction those words caused in her. Her hands tightened slightly in Alice's hair, her body wiggling restlessly. "Please. Please." Please touch me. Please be gentle. I don't want to be scared with you.
Sliding further down the bed, Alice continued her maddeningly slow pace. She kissed first Rosalie's right nipple, then her left. She flicked her tongue along the line from the bottom of her breasts to her belly button. Alice's tongue, circling her belly button, tickled and titillated, making Rosalie's voice reedy as she called Alice's name, begging with that single word. All the while her fingers stroked languidly, varying in pressure and speed.
Alice straightened up again as she started working Rosalie's pants down. Part of her wondered if she should be doing more than just lying back on the pillows, flushed and panting with her hands palm up and open on either side of her head, but Rosalie was overwhelmed. The intensity of the emotion she felt was unlike anything she had ever experienced. When Alice touched her, it wasn't just the nerves of her skin reacting, but a pleasure that went down to her very core.
Before she could ask if there was something Alice wanted her to do, the raven-haired woman looked up into her eyes. Then Rose found she couldn't talk. She could hardly breathe. The candle's flicker of fire seemed to grow to a deep rooted passion that burned white hot and as bright as a solar flare.
This was love. The difference between sex, when she had to try to turn her brain off to only feel the sensations of her body, and this, where she couldn't think past the growing fervor inside her, was astounding.
Alice kissed her once on the lips, a hard, fervent kiss, before she crawled backward. It was so natural for Rosalie to spread her legs as Alice lay between them, kissing the inside of her thighs. Rosalie ran the heel of one foot up and down Alice's back, just needing to touch more of her. Then Alice was using her fingers to spread her open, and lowering her head to taste.
Rosalie wanted to weep. It was clear that Alice knew exactly what she was doing. Part of Rosalie wanted to mourn because they could have learned together – shyly exploring each others bodies as they grew. But a bigger part of her was glad. She was out of her depth and afraid. Alice's confidence and sureness kept her grounded in the beauty and pleasure of the moment.
And here, finally, Alice didn't go slow. No, she moved her tongue quickly, exploring, licking and flicking against all of Rosalie's most intimate parts. Her fingers only supplemented her actions, making Rosalie gasp at the separate sensations that hit her all at once. She threw her head back, one hand a little rougher than she wanted as she grasped the back of Alice's head while the other was drawn to her own breasts. She'd never been this noisy without faking it. The groans and cries that emanated from her were completely involuntary.
"Alicccee!" Rosalie screamed, her hips bucking upward wildly. Alice was a lot stronger than she looked, her arm coming up to keep Rosalie's lower body anchored to the bed as she worked. If she minded the way Rosalie grasped her hair desperately as she came, Alice never made a single noise of complaint. No, her moans were filled with just as much pleasure, listening to how the blond woman came undone under her.
Shaking with the strength of the orgasm that ripped through her with a violent ecstasy, Rosalie couldn't move for long minutes afterward. She was sure that she must have lost brain function as she couldn't get her words to work. Words didn't seem necessary though. Alice seemed content, kissing her way back up Rosalie's body, nuzzling her neck with her nose before claiming her lips. It had never been hot to taste herself in the mouth of another person before, but everything was different now. Rosalie moved her trembling hand to cup Alice's cheek as they kissed – slow and languid again.
And as they lay cuddled together, Rosalie knew Alice was right. She... this was home. If nothing else made sense, this did. They did.
"You brought this on yourself
And it's high time you left it there
Lie here and rest your head
And dream of something else instead,"
A/N: Thanks for letting me participate in such a worthy cause. Thank you to jadedandboring and barburella for holding my hand and beta work.