Title: Into the Light

AH or AU: AH

POV: Rosalie

Rating: M/NC-17 (please note references to adult themes, including cutting, abuse and abortion)

Word Count: 8315

Summary: Can beauty and strength ever co-exist? Can scars be healed? Can light filter through, and defeat darkness?

Disclaimer: I do not own Twilight or its characters

To see the other entries in the Filthy Roseward contest, please visit http: / / w w w . fanfiction . net/u/ 2529769


Into the Light by domysticated


It's still dark outside when the alarm wakes me.

Five a.m. Bring it on.

I roll out of bed without a second thought, strip off my sweats and head into the shower. I wash quickly, without indulging, lathering the generic brand shampoo into my short hair, rinsing swiftly and efficiently.

It takes me less than five minutes to dry up and get dressed in my usual jeans and sweatshirt, and by five thirty I am driving down a deserted main street, the rain pelting on my car's windshield, the gloomy, nondescript buildings drenched in the anonymity of this depressed little corner of nowhere. I turn up the volume on my stereo and let the angry, dissonant notes fill the car. I sing along at the top of my lungs. It feels so good. So fucking good.

When I got the job at the radio – an email and a telephone voice test was all it took, and no questions were asked about the gaping hole in my CV where the last three years of employment should have been – they couldn't believe I was willing to move all the way from New York State to Forks, Washington.

"No one would actively want to move to Forks," Carlisle had said, his voice gently warning. I laughed, and told him I'd be there on Monday morning.

The old Rosalie would never have wanted to move here. She'd have taken one look at the pitiful collection of houses and little shops, one cursory glance at the weather report, and one disbelieving stare at the lack of any social life, and twisted her pretty little face in a pucker of disgust. Rose, on the other hand, only had to look at the distance between Rochester and Forks (2,806 miles, since you're asking, and yes, I have checked), to make herself at home. No way that bastard would ever look for me here. If he ever decided to look for me.

Forks has exceeded all my expectations. In the one year I have lived here, I have gotten better and better at being Rose – the new, different, improved Rose – so good, in fact, that I often forget to even try.

In the beginning it was hard work. I consciously did everything the opposite to how I would have done in the past: I chopped my long, blonde, highlighted hair into an unstyled bob of an ill-defined light brown shade; I threw away skirts and high heels and bought myself sweats and cowboy boots; I swept my counter clean of make-up, perfumes, fancy lotions, and all the rest of the armor I'd been hiding myself behind since I was sixteen.

The old Rosalie spoke softly, sought approval, never argued; Rose swears like a trooper and will always let you know what she thinks. And what she thinks is not always what you want to know.

Rosalie was beautiful, admired, envied; Rose just wants to be left alone, preferably ignored. Rosalie was proud of her looks; Rose knows that beauty is a prison and a curse.

But this morning… this morning, it's so easy to be Rose. I walk into work and find Seth fiddling with the mics and getting everything ready, in between sips of coffee from his gigantic travel mug. He greets me silently, gets his headphones on and settles himself behind the screen. I sit at my desk in the tiny recording studio, going over the notes Leah left for me yesterday afternoon. Everything we discussed has been fleshed out; there's a bunch of great quotes highlighted in yellow, and songs highlighted in green: some of them have pukey smileys next to them, and I can't blame her for it, some of the songs are just on the wrong side of easy listening. But then again not everyone wants to start their day with Leonard Cohen, which would be her musical choice if she were left to it. At the end of the script, she's written her customary "good luck, bitch", which never fails to cheer me up.

At six on the dot, I go on air, greeting listeners all over the Olympic peninsula, welcoming them to another rainy day and easing them into the renewed routine of their lives. For the next three hours, I alternate light-hearted discussion of recent news items (mostly local or general items, no politics, no sex), music, reading horoscopes and running silly little phone-in competitions where listeners win vouchers at the local gas station or a chance to road-test a lawnmower. I have been doing it for over a year, and while it was hard at first, it's now surprisingly easy to pass three hours like this, alone, except for Seth's silent presence on the console, and those unseen listeners somewhere in their homes, in their shops, in their cars. They don't know what I look like, and they never will.

I can do this with my eyes closed by now, and often I do.

At nine I wish them goodbye and leave the chair to Esme, who will be sharing cooking and cleaning tips for the next two hours. She blushes when she sees me, and I cringe despite myself, recalling the horrible Thanksgiving dinner she and Carlisle tricked me into attending, in an obvious and insulting attempt at setting me up with their dumb-ass nephew… Emmett McCarty, high school football coach and God's gift to women. Yeah, right. Did they seriously believe I would want to hang out with someone whose idea of seduction is to let me feel up his biceps? What next, show me your wiener? Boy had a mental age of sixteen and no capacity for picking up hints, so I had to be pretty brutal in my letdown.

I bumped into him at the grocery store a few weeks later, and his not-so-quiet whisper – "Frigid bitch" – echoed in the aisles. I laughed out loud.

I join Leah in the office to plan tomorrow's show. She always has fresh coffee and donuts waiting for me, and today is no exception. She's grumpy as hell first thing in the morning, and I love her a bit harder for it. I learned a lot about being Rose from Leah: everything I've had to work so hard to get, she has got naturally. Leah takes no shit, from anyone, least of all herself; she doesn't suck up to anyone, she doesn't owe anyone anything, and she wears her scars proudly. I know she looks up to me – the six years that separate us give me an illusory advantage – but, really, what I wouldn't give to have been Leah when it mattered…

Gradually, we ease into work: we throw ideas back and forth, disagree, raise our voices, eventually try things out until we agree on who's going to research what and come up with a tentative plan for tomorrow and a sketch of possible ideas for the days to come. Leah is a first-class researcher and she is brimming with ideas: if she's still here in two years' time, I am going to fire her, because she deserves better than Forks. When she asks me what I deserve, and where I'll be, I tell her to fuck off.

We're almost done for today and I am already thinking about lunch, when Carlisle puts his head in the door and asks me if I have a minute. Fuck. A meeting with Carlisle was not in the cards, and I could definitely do without it. It's not that Carlisle is a bad guy, quite the contrary. It's just that he's so… caring, so fucking decent, and his fatherly demeanor makes it really fucking hard to keep Rosalie and her pathetic need to be loved down. I end up being ultra abrasive to compensate, and I always feel slightly queasy afterwards.

He is nervous today, and that's not a good sign. We end up going for lunch in the diner downstairs, and the way the waitress smiles at him and the other patrons greet him warmly is setting me on edge. Once we are sitting down, food has been ordered, and pleasantries have been exchanged (yes, I like it here; no, I am not missing New York; yes, Leah and Seth are great; no, I didn't go to church last Sunday), he clears his throat. Oh, Carlisle, so predictable.

"So, Rose, I was wondering… I know how you don't like to do interviews and you said you don't want to do them and that's fine, the show's doing great, we get a lot of good feedback, good advertising, too, and that's great so… thank you, you know, great job." Yes, definitely nervous and all this beating around the bush is starting to give me the creeps.

"Carlisle, spit it out, what the eff is going on? Are you going to fire me?" I can't swear in front of Carlisle; I tried it once and he blushed so hard he almost passed out. There are limits to how far I can go. I do owe the man a lot, after all. But I can provoke him, just a tiny little bit, and it always works.

"What? No, no, no, Rose, oh dear, you misunderstand! We love you, really, no one's firing you!" He wipes his forehead, and downs his water in one long, desperate go. "Listen, I'll tell you what it is. Just hear me out, okay? You know Edward Masen?" I shake my head. Never heard of him. "Uh, no? I am surprised. He's Forks' biggest, well only, celebrity… famous artist, lives just out of town, has exhibited his work all over the world. His stuff goes for several tens of thousands and his profile is rising fast."

I keep my face absolutely still. I think I know what's coming, and fuck, the answer is clear.

"No, Carlisle, you know I won't do it. I don't do face-to-face, I don't do nice, and I most definitely don't do suck-up. I don't care who this guy is."

I can see Carlisle mustering his resolve, and he goes on.

"I know, dear, and I knew you were going to react this way, but I must insist. I have approached him for an interview several times, and he always said no. He doesn't do press, apparently. Never. But he called me yesterday." He pauses for effect. "Says he's changed his mind, and he'll do an interview with us, but only if you do it. He's a fan, apparently."

I laugh, bitterly. "C'mon, Carlisle, that doesn't change anything. I am not an interviewer, I have no effing clue who this Edward Manson is, and much as I wish I gave a monkey that he is a fan, I really don't. Sorry."

"Rose… I must insist." His tone is harsher now, almost stern. A novelty for Carlisle. "If we got an interview with Edward Masen, we'd be securing an exclusive which we'd be able to syndicate out to lots of other stations nationwide, as well as newspapers and websites. It would bring money to our station, and you know how badly we need it. And it would also be excellent exposure for those who work here." I am about to tell him how I don't give a fuck about exposure, but he interrupts me abruptly. Check out the balls on Carlisle. "And if you don't care about that, think of the other guys. It would be great for Leah: she'd have an opportunity to make a name for herself outside of Washington". Ah, bastard, he gets me with this. Is my soft spot for Leah really this transparent? Must. Try. Harder.

I grudgingly accept. "Whatever, okay, I'll do this. With Leah. When's the gig?"

"Here's his number. Call him to set it up. The sooner you guys can do it, the better. And I'd like to see the questions in advance, if possible. Thanks Rose, I appreciate it. You'll do a great job, I'm sure."

The relief is washing over his face. He got what he wanted, and he's pleased with himself. I, on the other hand, am fucking pissed. I don't do interviews. I don't do kiss-ass. I don't give a shit about celebrity pansy-ass artists, and stroking their big egos and small dicks is not my scene. This is the sort of stuff Rosalie would have dreamed of.

I go back to the office, share the news with Leah; she can hardly contain her excitement, and it pisses me off even more. Et tu, Leah. I tell her to call the guy to set something up. Then I go for a long run in the fucking pouring rain to sweat off the frustration, and try to forget all about Edward Masen.

Xoxoxoxo

Leah doesn't waste any time getting the ball rolling, and that's how I find myself driving through the thick forest in the outskirts of Forks (a town that's not big enough to have skirts, let alone fucking outskirts) on a Saturday afternoon, looking for Edward Masen's house, with an overexcited Leah and Seth in tow. Leah is here to help with the pre-interview prep, and Seth just wanted to come along for the ride because it sounded too good to miss. Go figure.

"I swear if you two kids don't calm the fuck down right now, I am turning back and leaving you in day-care." I growl.

This impressive show of authority only manages to push the juvenile factor up and the two of them start giggling uncontrollably.

"Okay, whatever! Leah, c'mon, tells me what we know about this fancy-ass artiste."

Leah immediately regains focus. That's my girl.

"Okay, so. Edward Masen, 38 years old, sculptor, used to a be a props and special effects artist in Hollywood- you know, the guys who used to make aliens and shit before they invented CGI. Art used to be a hobby until he moved out here. Back when he lived in L.A. he used to be a bit of a party animal, hanging out with the A-listers, in the gossip pages a lot. He was briefly married to Isabella Swan, but they got divorced 10 years ago. No kids. He's been in Forks for 8 years, and since then he's been living a low-key, reclusive life, no gossip, no news of his personal life. His career, on the other hand, has soared and that has been making all sorts of headlines. Must be pretty loaded by now, his latest work sold for a quarter of a million bucks at an auction in Amsterdam last month."

Seth whistles at the figure. I can picture the guy already – vain, self-absorbed, loaded, pretentious asshole.

It takes us over half an hour to find the house, and I must admit it's not what I expected. For a start, it's not really a house… more of an industrial space, perhaps a former factory building, with tall ceilings and huge windows.

"Fuck." Leah is clearly awed, and for once I don't find it in me to rebuke her.

The three of us make our way around the building until we find the door, and ring the bell long and hard. There is a deafening noise coming from inside. It takes a good five minutes before the door opens, and when it does, the first thing I see is a massive dog who shoots straight out and starts barking at us, running in circles and jumping excitedly.

"JASPER! Here! Sit!" comes a strong, commanding voice. The dog runs back in and sits at the feet of the man who's just appeared.

"Hi, sorry, Jasper is a bit eager sometimes… doesn't get much company. You must be the Radio Forks guys. Come in, come in, I'm Edward Masen."

His manner is open and easy-going, and he extends his hand to each one of us in turn, his shake strong and surprisingly warm.

I walk resolutely ahead, grumbling "Rose Hale" under my breath as I pass him, and I want to slap Leah and Seth for being so obsequious and enthusiastic.

I want to keep walking ahead but am forced to stop; the insides of the building are cavernous and confusing, and I have no idea how to proceed. Masen comes from behind, his dog hot on his heels, until he is right in front of me. He opens a door, and suddenly we are in an enormous, light-filled space.

That's when I take him in, and what I see surprises me almost to the point of shock. This is no fancy-ass, delicate-souled artist.

He is really tall, perhaps 6ft4, with a lean, almost lanky frame. He holds himself like someone who's trying to occupy less space than he is entitled to. He is wearing old, well-worn clothes—faded jeans and a thermal, close fitting t-shirt, which reveals muscular arms and shoulders. I am tall, but I still have to look up to take in his features, and the first thing I see is that he must have been spectacularly handsome when he was younger: his lips, jaw, nose… everything is perfectly proportioned and beautifully defined, as if cut in marble; his eyes are a startling deep grey, with shades of green which give them an extraordinary depth. But over this canvas of perfection, time and god knows what else have left their mark, uncompromisingly and without appeal. There are dark circles and wrinkles under his eyes- testament, I imagine, to long, sleepless nights- and deep set expression lines on his forehead, as if worry never quite leaves him. The stubble that grows on his perfect jaw and cheeks is speckled with grey.

The golden boy he must have been has faded, to be replaced by a worn, weary, hunched man of startling intensity. But his hair—brown/red, with no hints of white, slightly too long and messy—softens the blow and gives him a halo of youth and insouciance.

His studio and his work are nothing like I expected, either. For a start, the space is huge, and I mean fucking huge. There's all sorts of heavy machinery in there, and the noise, the smell, and the intense warmth all conspire to make it feel more like a factory than an artist's studio. Scattered around the machines and worktables are statues in various stages of completeness, mostly naked human figures, but also animals and more abstract shapes. All his creations are made of bronze or a similarly dark metal, and have rough textures that reflect the expressions of extreme anguish of the characters. Something about the twisted faces and writhing limbs of these inanimate objects, in this oversized, industrial setting, makes my stomach clench. I have to use all my self-control, and then some, to feign indifference and remain in command of myself.

And that's all I do over the next hour. Feign complete and utter indifference. Leah asks a million questions while Seth just looks awestruck. Edward Masen answers everything in a steady, courteous tone. Jasper the dog makes sure everyone behaves by standing close to his master and pre-empting any sign of tension of threat. And I just blank out all the words so that only the rhythm of their voices and their laughter reach me

I can't reconcile the easy-going, down-to-earth man in front of me with his angst-ridden, gut-wrenching work.

When we are done, Masen shakes my hand again, and I have to fucking fight the impulse to be drawn into those deep, intense eyes of his Instead, I scowl and let go of his hand too quickly

"So I'll see you on Monday morning, five forty-five, don't be late or I'll start without you."

That night, my dreams are filled with enormous bronze figures wailing and flailing in pain and anguish.

Xoxoxoxo

When I pull into work on Monday morning, I see an unfamiliar car— an old, beat-up Volvo- parked in the lot, and I guess Masen is already there. I also see Carlisle's car, and Leah's motorcycle, too. Full house today, all here for the big star.

I walk up as usual, to find them all there already drinking coffee and making small, civilized talk in the cramped space. Masen is standing in a corner, his shoulders slightly hunched. I can feel his eyes on me, and it makes me tense and uneasy.

I acknowledge the small crowd with a nod, but I don't bother speaking. I hate this day already, and am beyond nervous at the idea of having to spend a whole hour locked in the intimate confines of the studio with this man, this stranger, and be nice and professional to him. I grab a coffee and walk toward the studio, barking out "Whenever you're ready" in the general direction of Edward Masen.

He follows me and settles into the chair in front of me. Seth hands him a headset and explains to him how the mic works, and I focus on my papers, going over the questions we agreed on yesterday, avoiding his gaze. I know I will have to look at him soon, and I am trying to delay the inevitable for as long as I can.

Finally, everything is ready. Carlisle and Leah stand with Seth behind the glass, and as I clear my head of all negative thoughts I hear Seth's mellow voice counting down "On air in five… four… three… two… one… go".

"Good morning, this is Rose Hale. As you know, we have a very special guest here today…"

I chat and play songs for almost an hour, giving people time to wake up and tune in, warming them up for the big moment. Masen sits in front of me, looking at me intently, absolutely, unnaturally still. The tense, angry knot in my stomach shows no sign of relaxing.

"And now the moment you've all been waiting for. I hope you are all sitting comfortably and ready for my very special guest. I am here this morning with Forks's most famous, as well as most mysterious, resident, Edward Masen. Edward, welcome, and thank you for joining us."

"It's a pleasure. I am delighted to be here."

His eyes fix on mine, and we're on. Gradually, over the next hour, as I ask Edward about his career, his inspiration, his phenomenal success, I forget there are other people here with us, let alone thousands of people listening to us. His voice is steady, deep, unexpectedly warm through the medium of the microphone, and the headphones amplify it in my ears, mesmerizing me. His answers are honest, meaningful, interesting.

He patiently explains how his work involves heavy machinery to melt and mold the metal, how his sculptures take months to be completed, and how hard it is to transport them.

The man that emerges from this interview is someone of unexpected depth and self-awareness, and I feel myself drawn in by his personality, shocking myself by wanting to know more, to get to the roots of what happened to him to justify all the anguish and the pain he expresses in his work.

We don't talk about that, but there are hints, shadows really, pauses in his answers that reveal more, some darkness in what is on the surface a luminous, charismatic, confident personality.

"So… how does one go from Hollywood golden playboy to reclusive, world-famous sculptor in Forks?"

I immediately regret asking: he draws in breath sharply and tenses up at my question.

Long, loaded seconds tick by, until I make some lame joke about getting off the wrong exit on the highway, and the moment passes.

Somehow, even though this is really about him, I find myself disclosing way more about myself than I ever have since moving here. He has a way of chiseling away small cracks in my shield. We share jokes about both being outsiders here, and I somehow reveal that, yes, running is the way I relax, too.

His hour is up, and he politely says his goodbyes, shaking my hand. He leaves the studio, and hangs back a bit with Carlisle – I can see them through the glass, and Carlisle is so happy he's probably wet himself a bit. I think this went well… no, I am sure this went well, and there's a slightly deflated, anticlimactic feeling to being alone in the studio. I still have to finish the show as usual.

When I finally go off the air, there's cheering, and hand shaking, and a genuinely festive mood among the team. Everyone is delighted with the interview. There have already been lots of calls and offers from other networks are piling in. Carlisle calls me into his office to tell me just how great I was and that he is proud of me, and although I don't want it to, it feels good.

But of course, I know that after the high and the good feelings, the low is close behind, and sure enough as soon as I get home, it hits me. I have allowed my defenses to go down today, I have given a shit, and now there's this void, this hole, where the anger and the detachment usually are.

I am disoriented, worn out, tired. Rosalie is screaming inside me, begging to be allowed to hope, begging to feel good again, ready for anything. And I can't have that. I can't allow that.

I am tempted to take an extra pill, but I know better than that. Instead, I grab my running shoes, and head out, deep into the woods, running fast, far, until my heart is stampeding and my legs are screaming, and there's no more room for thoughts, for hope, for disappointment.

Xoxoxoxo

And so my routine resumes, the early mornings, the show, the carefully assembled scaffolding I have constructed around myself. The dreams of bronze and pain and torture recede. The buzz around the interview dies down.

It's as if Edward Masen never existed, and I am almost ready to forget our paths ever crossed.

And then they cross again. It's a Sunday morning, my day off, and it's bitterly cold, although thankfully not raining. The air is pure and chilly and unusually dry for these parts. The ground is hard and the woods are quiet and I run slowly, pacing myself, wanting to enjoy it all, pushing myself a little further away from my usual paths, reveling in the scenery and the solitude.

I hear him before I see him. Steps, to my right. More than one set. Close by, and coming closer. My first instinct is to run faster, to backtrack, fearing a predator of some sort, but rationally I know there's no way I can outrun anything at this stage, and I'm too far from the beaten path anyway. And then I see him. It takes me a moment to recognize him: the hat he's wearing is hiding his distinctive hair, but it's him. His lean, hunched frame, and the dog running hot on his heels, give him away. Edward Masen. He raises his hand in greeting, and jogs easily towards me. I don't stop running, and he falls into step next to me.

"Hey, Rose. Good to see you here." His voice is only minimally strained from the effort of running and talking at the same time.

"Hey."

"How've you been?"

"Good." I don't make conversation, hoping he gets the hint.

But he doesn't, and somehow we find ourselves running together for over half an hour, with him asking generic questions and me giving him monosyllabic answers.

"So, this is where I go off," I say once we get close to the path that leads back to my house.

"Okay. Wanna run together again sometime?" He looks at me with that intense, piercing gaze of his.

"I don't need a running buddy to defend me, and you'd probably just slow me down," I say with a scowl.

But instead of getting the hint, he chuckles.

"Hey, I could do with someone to kick my butt, and I could definitely do with someone to defend me. These woods can be scary, ya know." He winks. He fucking winks.

And that wink, or perhaps his tight thermal top, or the way his sweatpants hang off his hips… Rosalie answers before I can control her.

"Okay, sure."

Xoxoxoxo

And so a new routine develops. When I hit the woods in the early afternoon, I find Edward and Jasper waiting for me. I have no idea how they know to be right there at the right time every day, but somehow, they do.

He's a good runner, strong and resistant, with more stamina than speed, and that suits me just fine. We don't really talk much, and never about anything meaningful. But the space between us gets easier and closer, and there's a confidence, a tacit agreement, some kind of unspoken and inexplicable bond, that develops between us. Jasper keeps a close eye on me, and one day I notice that he follows me, rather than Edward. Edward notices it too, and gives me another of those winks.

"I think my boy likes you."

That makes me laugh, "I like your boy, too." I crouch down to pet Jasper, and he rewards me by leaping on me and almost knocking off my feet.

I notice that when Edward is running his features relax, the frown lines almost disappear.

As the weeks go by, his whole posture seems to shift and unfold, the hunch and tension in his shoulders gradually easing away. He occupies his space fully, and rather than being threatened by that, I feel strangely included.

There are so many contradictions to this man, so many conflicting sides to him. Some days he's easy-going, friendly, bright, making small talk, undeterred by my monosyllabic answers. But other times… other times it's as if he's immersed in a dark, oppressive cloud. Those are the days we run silently, side by side, each fighting our own personal demons.

And then, on one of these days, he surprises me by saying. "You're different when you're running. Fierce, as usual, but radiant. Carefree." Before I can react by scowling or telling him to fuck off, he sprints away, leaving me unsure of what, exactly, just happened.

Xoxoxoxo

Today is the first day of summer. The sun is shining, and the temperature is rising. We have been running for only 45 minutes but the sudden warmth makes us both sluggish and lethargic, so we stop in a clearing in the forest. We lie down on the grass, a few feet apart, staring at the sun and the clouds, Jasper at our feet.

Our bodies are not touching, and yet this feels like the most intimate moment I have shared with anyone in a really long time.

I feel euphoric from the running. Bold. Unguarded.

"Why did you want me to interview you?" I blurt out before I can rationalize and change my mind.

Edward takes a moment before replying.

"For a year, I've been hearing your voice every morning as I wake up. I felt I knew you… that we would… recognize each other. I don't know… just instinct, I guess."

And it makes no sense, but I know exactly what he means.

It's hot, and I am sweating, uncomfortable, flushed from the running and the heat. My whole body tenses at the idea of removing my sweatshirt, a mild panic tightening in my chest, but then I think that this is Rosalie panicking, and that Rose doesn't give a shit.

Before I can change my mind, I lift the sweatshirt over my head and toss it on the grass beside me. Edward's face turns towards me, slowly, and it isn't long before his eyes are scanning my arms, the criss-cross of scars almost glistening in the sun, too many to count, too obvious not to mention.

His eyes don't betray any surprise, and when he speaks, his voice is calm, steady, devoid of emotion. Almost as if he expected that he would be seeing scars on me. Almost as if he'd been practicing. Almost as if he knew.

"Did he do this to you?"

"No. I did this to me."

I get up, grab my sweater, and run away. Literally.

Xoxoxoxo

It's not what he thinks.

There are many ways to hurt a person, fucking untold ways to abuse a woman, and not all of them involve physical pain.

There are ways to turn love into a snake that suffocates you and throws you down and keeps you writhing in the dirt till you're no better than dust.

Stop eating Rosalie, can't you see how fat you're getting? You know I hate big girls.

You want to do what? Work in radio? You're too stupid for that. Why do you even want to try? You're barely capable of holding down your pathetic little job.

Look at your ugly, stupid face. You're lucky I am with you, no one else would even look at you.

You can never leave me Rosalie. No one else will ever love you; no one even likes you. See how your friends don't call you anymore? You have no one, no one but me.

You think I'd want to fuck someone as fat and ugly as you? Shut up and get on your knees, and do the only thing you're good for.

There's no way this baby is mine, you fucking slut. If you have it, I will leave you, and what will you do? Get rid of it.

Get rid of it.

Get rid of it.

So I did. I got rid of it. I cried the whole time they were doing it. I cried when I got home. I cried when he made me do the only thing I was good for that night. I cried because I was too weak to save my baby from him, from me. And then when I finally stopped crying, I found that in the place where my baby used to be, there was now the strength I needed to leave.

And I left.

I saved myself. But his hatred stayed with me, in me, and I hated myself so much. I hated my weakness, I hated that I had made myself into a victim. Rosalie had gone to the slaughter, willingly, meekly, passively. Rosalie deserved to be hurt, to be punished, to be marked. I made sure she got it all. Rosalie must go. I had to become someone else, someone who would never let this happen to herself. So I cut- as far and as deep as I could, trying to bleed all the venom and the dirt out.

And through the fire and suffering and pain and blood, I was reborn. I became Rose.

Xoxoxoxo

I don't hear from Edward for several days. I avoid him, and I think he avoids me. We don't run together any more, not by coincidence, and certainly not by arrangement. I can't say I am surprised, but there is a void in my life now that wasn't there before, and I hate myself for letting it happen. For letting him get to me, letting him insinuate himself into my life, his intentions ill defined, his expectations unclear.

Edward and his fucking dog have claimed a piece of me, and that shit is not on. Not on. I am fucking fine alone. I don't fucking need anyone, not a man, not a dog, no fucking one.

You hear me, Rosalie? You hear me? I don't fucking need anyone.

And yet, at night, even the happy pills are not enough to stop the tears from coming.

Xoxoxoxo

Two weeks later, I find a letter on my porch when I come in from work. Handwritten, hand-delivered. I pick it up, almost scared of it, afraid of what it may contain. It is heavy in my hands, and I sit down at the kitchen table, staring at it for a long time, before I finally have the courage to tear it open and read it.

The handwriting is old-fashioned, flowing, and yet distinctly masculine.

Dear Rose,

A few weeks ago you asked me how I came to be here. I still owe you an answer, and I wish I had been strong and brave enough to give it to you face to face. But I am not, so I wrote it down instead. You've shown me your story, here is mine.

I always loved to make stuff, since I was a kid. I had all these stories in my head, stories of dragons and aliens and monsters, and I'd try to build them in whatever way I could. I taught myself all sorts of ways to make stuff, papier-mache, clay, silicone… I researched techniques and tried, and tried, until I managed. I was a huge nerd, trust me.

I never thought this could be a career, but then, through a smart high school career counselor, I stumbled onto a film-effects course at a college in L.A., and I discovered I could actually make money that way. So I moved to California, did my course, and everything fell into place.

Before I even graduated, I started working for a company that made special effects, and I had a blast. It was fun work, great money, and of course, it was Hollywood. I was a good-looking kid from a small town, and I threw myself into that life. Parties, drugs, chicks… everything. But girls, especially. I couldn't believe all those beautiful women wanted me, and I never, ever said no. I lived that life to the fullest. I never went home. I never even called home. All I wanted was more partying, more money, more girls.

Then the inevitable happened. I fell in love.

When I met Bella Swan, she was just one of a thousand waitresses trying to make it big. She was young, she was talented, she was beautiful. We were in love and for a while it was like being on top of the world. She started coming out to party with me, and with the partying and meeting people came her big break. She went from nobody to box-office queen in the space of a few months. But with the partying and the fame came other stuff, too. She got to love the drugs, and she got to love the attention. Everyone wanted a piece of her. And she wanted a piece of everything and everyone… We were very similar, in a way… She could never stop, never say no. The latest pill, the latest drink, men, women… she never said no. I still loved her, so much, but that was not enough, never enough for her. She got angry when I tried to rein her in, accusing me of wanting to control her, of denying her what she was owed.

Then my mom got sick. Breast cancer. My dad begged me to come home to be with her, and I wanted to, but I was always putting it off, not wanting to leave Bella alone, convinced that if I left, even for a few days, I would not find her again. I became obsessed, jealous, insane. My work suffered, my friends disappeared. Our relationship was pure poison by then, a twisted mess of enabling and guilt. This went on for a long time. Too long.

And then my mom died. I had never been to see her the whole time she was sick and I was racked by guilt. My trip home for her funeral was a disaster. Seeing her, a shell of what she used to be, her body wasted and ravaged… it killed me. I fought with my dad, with my sister, everyone was angry at me for not being there, and they were right. My family wanted nothing more to do with me, and I knew I only had myself to blame. When I got back to L.A., the house was full of people I had never seen, doing all sorts of drugs. Bella was having sex with another guy, in our bed. When she saw me standing there, in our bedroom, she was so high she reached out to me, and asked me if I wanted to join in with them.

I left the next day. I was alone, empty. All the things I thought I had were gone. I traveled around for a few months, sleeping in my car, until the road brought me here… I hid in this house and went back to making stuff.

This is me. These are my scars.

I hope you'll run with me again, sometime.

Edward

I stand still, silent for a long, long time. So this is it. This is how he went from beautiful, dazzling kid to worn, rugged, weary man. This is how Hollywood led to Forks. This is how entertainment and moneymaking became a way to let the pain and the self-loathing out.

This is the darkness.

I don't know what to make of it, and I don't want to know.

I avoid the woods from that day onwards.

Xoxoxoxo

A week goes by, then another. I trick myself into believing the letter never happened, that Edward never happened.

And then I find his beat-up Volvo in my driveway when I come home from work. He is sitting on the steps, Jasper faithfully next to him. When he sees me, he jumps up and runs to me, wagging his tail, unmistakeably happy. Jasper, that is. Edward just sits there, and waits for me to come to him. He gives me time to prepare myself. He gives Jasper time to relax me.

It's still warm, but the sky is dark with clouds and the air is dense with the threat of a thunderstorm.

There is a paralyzing weight on my chest that threatens to curtail my breath and turns my legs into lead.

Finally, I make my way to the steps. Hesitantly, I sit down next to him. We don't say anything for several minutes.

"So." I am the one to break the silence.

Edward turns to me, his features soft, his eyes smiling. "Hi."

"Is this why you're here? To say hi? Or have you got something to say to me?" This comes out more harshly than I want it to, but he doesn't flinch, and now the smile travels down to his mouth, and it's as if the sun had just come out from the clouds. It warms me up, even if I don't want it to.

"I do have something to say to you. Or rather, to show you. I was wondering if you wanted to come over."

"You could have called."

"You would have said no." And it's true. I would have.

"And what makes you think I won't say no now?" I am looking straight ahead, stroking Jasper's soft fur, letting the contented rumbles he's emitting vibrate into my hands and arms and shoulders.

"I don't know what you'll say. I just hope you'll say yes. What I want to show you… it's important. It took me all this time to get it right, but I think… I think I got it."

And here's the fucking thing. He is not asking. He is not pleading. He is not expecting. He is just laying the facts out for me, giving me the choice, giving me control.

"Okay, whatever. I'll come. This better be fucking good." I huff, pull myself up and walk back toward my car.

"Now?" Edward and Jasper scamper behind me.

"Yeah, now, let's get this over and done with before I change my mind. And I am coming with my car, so I can leave whenever I want."

He's laughing now, shaking his head.

All I can hear is the loud, incessant beating of my heart in my chest.

I drive ahead of him, fast, too fast, knowing his car is no match for mine, and I am already standing impatiently by his door by the time he and Jasper finally make their way over.

The sky is almost black now, and I can hear thunder in the distance.

He opens the door to his studio, and once again I am hit by how beautiful it is in here. It's huge and airy, and I still can't make any sense of the oversized machines and large objects that are everywhere. There's just enough light coming from the skylight windows, but it's so much darker than the last time I was here, and the gloom gives the room a menacing quality.

He walks toward the back, toward the largest window. I follow him, until he stops.

In front of us stands something that wasn't here last time. I catch my breath.

It's a large globe of glass, perhaps seven feet tall, anchored to the floor by a complex system of iron rods and chains. The glass is matte, thick, rough. The surface is uneven and in spots it's milky, opaque. Inside, I can make out a figure… a statue. I walk around the structure, trying to catch a sight of what it is, and I need to peer at it from several angles, to find transparent gaps in the glass, before I can fully comprehend it.

It's a human form… or maybe an angel. Child sized. Suspended from the ceiling. Ethereal, graceful, seemingly swimming. And it's made of a shiny, clear, smooth metal. Steel, or aluminium.

The metal catches the light and reflects it back, making the space inside the glass brighter and lighter than the surrounding room.

I have never seen anything quite like this, and my brain struggles to understand the seemingly miraculous way it defies light and gravity.

I am transfixed and I don't notice that Edward has followed me around, and is now standing right next to me.

"You see… the glass: it's rough, and imperfect, and some may say dirty, and yet it's beautiful, a gorgeous shell. And the statue? So pure, so ethereal and yet… so strong."

"But together? Together, Rose, they are perfection. They are whole."

He takes my hand and gently places it on his chest, so I can feel his heart beating steadily, and strongly, pulsating with life.

"You don't need me Rose. I know you don't need me. You don't need anyone. You are perfect the way you are, strong, and beautiful, and rough and imperfect."

He kisses the tips of my fingers and pulls me towards him so our eyes lock on to each other's.

"But it's okay to want me. Wanting me won't make you weak."

The voice that rises from my chest is so weak and trembling I barely recognize it as my own.

"But why do you want me, Edward?"

"Because with you at my side I know I can shut out the darkness."

Outside, the storm finally erupts as heavy, thunderous raindrops start pelting the windows and ceiling.

Xoxoxoxo

Later that night, in Edward's sparsely furnished bedroom, I take off all my clothes, and watch him as he does the same. His body is beautiful, chiseled like a statue, his muscles rippling and lean, his skin perfectly unmarked. I know that deep inside him there are scars, marks that are just as ugly and painful as mine. I run my hand on his chest, on his arms, in his thick, surprisingly soft hair. So close, he smells like moss and trees and rain. When he picks me up, easily, I fit into his arms as though I were a mere child, and I let myself sink into his solid, reassuring embrace. I shiver, and he asks me if I am cold, if I am scared. I shake my head.

"It's just… I don't know who I am," I whisper, hiding my face into his neck.

He kisses me gently, almost without touching me.

"You don't have to always know. Just… be." His voice is so close that it almost feels like it's coming from within me.

He slowly kisses every inch of my body, taking extra care to linger tenderly over my disfigured arms, and caresses me with rough, yet tender hands for what feels like hours. He licks away my tears, and when he enters me, he doesn't look away. He waits until I find my rhythm, and our bodies rock together, his strong arms holding me up, his lips never ceasing to murmur how beautiful I am, how perfect, his fingers helping me to find my pleasure, and he waits until I am right there before joining me. We reach the peak together, and together we fall.

Xoxoxoxo

It's still dark outside when I silently roll off the bed, praying that no creaking springs betray me. I head into the shower and let the hot water slowly revive me. My hair is longer now, it reaches my shoulders, and I am using a fancy shampoo Edward brought back from London. It smells wonderful, and I revel in the small pleasure it gives me.

I get dressed in the dark, taking care not to make any noise, and before heading down the stairs and out to work, I steal a glance back at the bed. Edward is sleeping on his side, one arm curled under his head, the other slung protectively over Alba's tiny form.

Alba.

Our beautiful, beloved baby. Our gift, bestowed upon us so soon after we found each other. Our angel, come to seal our union and brush away our fears, our doubts, our darkness.

She stirs minutely, and I retreat towards the door, praying I haven't woken her up. But she just whimpers and rolls her head towards her father, who instinctively readjusts his position to accommodate her.

I get to work with minutes to spare.

"Good morning Washington, this is Rosalie Hale. How are you all doing on this rainy, dark, wonderful November day?"