A/N: Originally posted in the 30 Days of Emmett collection. Thanks to Mal & MTK for prereading my slop. I 3 u both super-squeezy hard.


BLACK FRIDAY

What the fuck am I doing in a mall on Black Friday? I mean it's pre-ass o'clock in the morning and I'm at a MALL. I'm not even hungry yet—in fact, I think I can still feel Bella's stuffing sitting like a lead brick in my gut. Damn, Edward; she's great and all, but girl needs to check that recipe.

I don't know how she does it, but my dwarf of a half-sister convinced me that I needed to "keep her company" while she shopped. I'd been too preoccupied to remember that it really meant "hold my bags." I know I'm a big guy, and I can carry a lot of shit at once, but does that mean I want to? Or that I don't get tired of it?

That adorable twerp is really lucky I have the patience of a saint. Okay, maybe that's a stretch, but it takes a lot to piss me off. Still, she better appreciate me. And by appreciate me, I mean buy me some pretty fucking awesome shit for Christmas. I'm not a material guy, but she owes me for this. I think I need the new Guitar Hero or Rock Band or something. Maybe just an entirely new gaming system. They probably have them for fifty bucks around here somewhere. Alice is great at sniffing out deals.

I sigh, leaning back on the bench, next to a few other guys, probably husbands, gathering by the incredibly irritated looks on their faces. Except that dude on the scooter—I'm pretty sure he's asleep.

I think we all just got snowed. Those of us who're awake share a silent nod in solidarity. It's like a fist-bump, but without having to move.

"Excuse me, do you have the time?"

My eyes float up to meet the warm brown eyes of ... hot damn.

"Hey, Rosalie." I can't help how quiet the words are, but I'm a little shocked to see her. I haven't seen this girl since she fell off the bleachers my senior year in high school. She wore a back brace at the time—I think it was for a curve in her spine, and Royce King used to tease her mercilessly about it. At the homecoming assembly, she was walking up the steps, and he put his foot to the metal spine and shoved her over the side. I swear to God, I was sure the fall would kill her.

It didn't, but I nearly killed him. Something took hold of me and propelled me across the aisle, intent on nothing but putting him in a world of hurt. It took four guys and a kick to the 'nads to get me to stop punching him. Royce was hospitalized. I was lucky the Kings didn't decide to press charges, as I was already eighteen. I was, however, suspended for two weeks. I still say it was worth it.

Luckily, Rosalie was okay, but she was out of school for the remainder of the year. I never saw her again after that.

I remember thinking she looked like a blonde-haired Natalie Wood: sinfully gorgeous and powerful, but a barely masked vulnerability managed to shine through if you really looked. What? My mom liked to watch old movies, so I ended up ... Shut up.

Rosalie was usually so withdrawn, quiet—not to mention wicked smart, however, it was almost impossible to approach her. Looking at her now, I wondered if she was an actress or a model; she was radiant. And probably married. There goes my shot to get some kind of Black Friday deal out of this shopping trip.

Her eyes snap to mine as recognition washes over her. "Oh, um, Emmett? Emmett McCarty, yeah?" The words are hesitant, and it sounds like she's not sure whether she's pleasantly surprised, or just annoyed.

I nod, standing and setting the four bags Alice has already amassed on my seat. "Yep," I try to smile. I can't really remember if I was ever a dick to her or not. I didn't make a habit of it, but I had my asshole moments. Those were usually reserved for other guys, though. Or my dad. Never girls.

A tight smile stretches her lips as she appraises me. "Wow. Yeah, so, um, how are you?"

Oh, hell no. This is too painful. No bullshit smalltalk.

"Was I an asshole to you? I must've started blocking shit out from high school, so I apologize because I can't remember," I kinda blurt, eager to cut past the crap.

I've clearly taken her by surprise (again?), but I can't tell if I've offended her or not. She sputters for a moment before responding quietly, "No, no, you were ... you were usually very kind, actually."

"Really? Awesome." Crap. I sound like a moron. "I mean, I'm glad. I ... I always wanted to talk to you, but ... I don't know. I —"

"It's fine, Emmett," she laughs a little, before looking around a little awkwardly. The silence between us grows until I recall she was asking for the time.

"OH! The time ... it's, uh," I pause to dig my phone out of my pocket and press the button so it lights up. "It's —fucking hell— only seven-fifteen."

A loud snort erupts from her, and she covers her mouth with a cashmere-gloved hand. "What are you doing here, then?"

"My sister, the mini-terror," I tell her, as if that's enough of an explanation.

Her eyebrows raise, telling me it wasn't.

"Alice? I don't know if you remember her—"

"She's a little difficult to forget," she assures me, smiling a little wider.

I laugh lightly. "Yeah, well, I think she caught me in a moment of pure stupefication because she dragged my ass here to act as her carryall."

"How sweet," she muses.

"Oh, yeah," I say, rolling my eyes good-naturedly, "she's a real peach at four in the morning."

Rosalie shakes her head. "No, I meant you."

When her big brown eyes catch mine, I freeze, caught in their warm, soulful gaze. I'm pretty sure my mouth hangs open. I think this is what the saps (like Edward, for example) refer to as "the lightning bolt."

"Find something you like, Em?" I hear my evil sister's Chirpy-McChipperson voice peep from behind me.

I blink a few times, spinning to give her a nostril-flaring glare. Little bitch giggles at me.

"Rosalie Hale, right?" Alice fluidly steps around me, blatantly ignoring my warning. "It's so nice to see you! What are you shopping for today? Have you found any deals? I was just at Macy's and got three lingerie sets for $30! That's thong, panties, bra, and garters!"

She's doing this on purpose. I can feel the vomit rising up my throat, burning like lava.

"I swear to God, Rainbow Sprite, I will not tell you again how much I would NEVER like to hear about my sister and lingerie. EVER. Please," I beg, and notice Rosalie smirking, holding back a laugh.

"Whatever," she sighs, waving me off. "So you don't want to hear about the toys I got two-for-one at Good Vibrations?"

I bite my lips, just in case actual vomit does try to erupt. They're both full-on laughing now, so I give up, sitting back down in my seat. On top of Alice's bags.

"YOU'RE CRUSHING MY STUFF!" Alice squeals.

"You've crushed my will to live, Tiny!"

"Impossible," she sing-songs, turning back to Rosalie. "Anyway, would you like to join us for breakfast? I'm famished, and I'm sure Em would like this opportunity to —"

"Alice!" I shout, unintentionally echoing a boom throughout the mall. I look around sheepishly, seeing my "brothers-in-arms" violently jerk awake and give me dirty looks. Sorry, dudes. My bad.

"—take all my bags to the car," she finishes, completely amused. "I haven't the faintest idea of what you think I was going to say."

My face flames red. Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, I have lost it. I need to sleep. "Whatever," I reply, shaking my head, before peeking back up to look at Rosalie.

She's incandescent and smiling, and I want to know why. "I can't," she says finally, and my heart drops to my feet. "I have to pick up my —"

"Husband," I provide, immediately wishing I had some duct tape to slap over my enormous cakehole.

"No!" she near-yells, almost seeming offended. She softens quickly and looks almost shyly at me. "That is, uh, no. I'm not married. I was going to say my mother. She's flying in from Phoenix in a couple hours, so I have to head to the airport. I would love to ... catch up, though."

I can feel Alice gearing up to embarrass me, or say something out of turn (it's her basic nature), so I literally paw her face, covering her mouth with my hand.

"Maybe I could call you later," I suggest, trying to be gentler in my tone this time. "Or you could call me, if you want."

Fumbling idiot.

She smiles. And it's breathtaking. "Yes," she nods vigorously. "I'd like that."

Alice is squirming, trying to extricate her face from my grasp, but I'm not letting go. I retrieve my phone from my pocket with my free hand and offer it to Rosalie. She takes it, dials her number, calling her own phone that starts to ring in her pocket.

"There," she says, handing mine back. "Until later."

I smile and nod. "Later, then."

She begins to back away slowly, but then rushes forward, her hands gripping my shoulders as she plants a kiss on my cheek. Whispering in my ear, she sounds almost like she wants to cry. "Thank you ... for caring. I never got to tell you, but thank you."

Whirling, she breaks into a light run toward the other end of the hall. I watch her until her form disappears into the crowd. Alice has wriggled out of my claw-hold and punches me in the kidney.

"Dammit, Oompa! If I have blood in my piss, I'm telling Mom!" Fuck, I can't believe I just said that. How old am I?

The inclusion of a "mom-threat" has neutralized any anger at the "Oompa Loompa" remark, and she dissolves into laughter. "Oh, Paul," she teases back (Yeah, she means Paul Bunyan), "you are so cute when you're in love. Ya know? I don't think I've seen that level of stupid on your face before."

Eying her, I try to remember that I do love my sister. "I'm not ... it's just ..." I huff, realizing it's useless to try and justify myself. I've been struck dumb by this woman, and I just have to own up to it. "I'm interested, okay?"

"Pffft." She rolls her eyes dramatically. "She's it. That was totally love at first sight. I've just never seen it in person."

"Whatever, Ali. It's not really first sight, anyway." Rosalie is on parade in the forefront of my mind, and I admit, I may have stared of into space until Alice flicks me with her middle finger right between my eyes. "What? Why are you—"

"Are you done mooning over her yet? 'Cause I am gonna start eating small children if we don't get some breakfast." Pointing to her (crushed) bags, she raises her eyebrows expectantly. I wrap my fingers around the handles and load up my arms with her latest batch.

"Let's go, Gollum," I sigh, a bright smile haunting me as we head toward the exit.

Once we get to the car (right up front — Alice made us get here so early, we beat some of the employees), I pile all her loot into the back and walk around to the driver's side door. Before I get in, I feel my phone buzz in my pocket. Hope flares in my chest that it is who I think it is, and I rush to read the message.

I never shop Black Friday. I'm glad I did. Talk later?

My heart was trying to bust through my ribcage as I got in the car and fastened the seatbelt. "Alice?"

"Mmmhmmm," she replies, as if she already knew what I'd say.

I turn to her and tell her honestly, "Thanks for waking me up at the crack of yesterday and making me go shopping with you."

She smiles, gleefully. "You're welcome. This is why you must trust me, young Jedi."

I roll my eyes, groaning, and rev the gas, wishing the car warm. Looking down at the phone still in my hand, I thumb out a quick reply.

Defnitly. Blk Fri might just b my new fav holiday.