Author Name: shelikesthesound
Story Title: Vampire Heart
Word count: 5,620
Summary: Rosalie has to reconcile the fact she was turned into a vampire without her consent. As she struggles for the answer, she discovers what she wants may not be what she needs. One shot for the Fandom for Juvenile Diabetes.
Disclaimer: I own nothing Twilight related. That honor belongs to SM. I'm just here for the sparkly vamps.
"You can't always get what you want, Rosalie."
That sentence had been drilled into my head by my parents my whole life. It didn't matter if I had wanted a prettier and more expensive dress or an extra piece of pie—either my mother or my father would ramble off that clichéd sentence. After twenty years, I had heard it so many times, I'd started to believe it. So, it wasn't really a great surprise when it proved to be true once again.
I was lying bleeding and broken on the pavement after my fiancé had shown me exactly what kind of man he was. He and his friends had degraded me in every way possible and left me for dead. Everything hurt, inside and out. All I had wanted was for the pain to stop—it didn't matter how. The pain from my bleeding wounds and broken bones, and the pain from being humiliated and treated like garbage by the man I was supposed to marry. Had been supposed to marry. I felt myself slipping away. The only thing that was real was the pain.
Then someone was there, whispering words I couldn't fully comprehend, and just as I'd hoped that whoever it was would help me and make the pain go away, it got a thousand times worse instead.
You can't always get what you want, Rosalie.
Pain. Excruciating pain burned inside me. I felt like I was being simultaneously ripped apart, burned, boiled, and incinerated. I wasn't particularly religious, but I truly believed that I was in hell. Although it seemed impossible, it felt like the pain continued to get worse. I was past hoping for death to claim me—I had to be dead already if I was in hell.
I didn't know what I'd done to deserve a spot there. Had I been too vain? Too greedy? Was there a way out of hell? I didn't remember my Bible as well as I should have, but an eternity of excruciating pain…how did I let go? How did I give up? I would do anything, including sell my soul to the devil himself, to be free from the torture.
After what seemed like decades, the pain changed and centered in my heart. I couldn't breathe but discovered that I didn't have to. I was clearly dead. I suddenly started noticing things around me for the first time since I had closed my eyes on the snowy sidewalk. There were voices, but I couldn't make out what they were saying. A million different scents assaulted me, and I could feel something soft against my skin.
The pain in my heart spiraled out of control until it disappeared suddenly. I gasped and opened my eyes. I saw dust particles floating around in the air, and after a full second of rejoicing the fact that the pain had vanished, the most awful burning sensation started in my throat. I was only slightly distracted from it when I realized that I could move—something I hadn't been able to do since landing on the sidewalk.
Looking around, I didn't recognize the room I was in. It was a beautifully decorated bedroom with white walls, pale purple curtains, and dark wood furniture. There was a painting of a blooming lilac tree on the wall, and I was lying on a soft bed filled with pillows. None of it looked like it belonged in hell, and I started to wonder if maybe I hadn't died, after all. I should at least have been in the hospital, though. I knew my injuries had been severe, even if the only thing that was hurting was my throat. I closed my eyes tightly as I remembered exactly what had happened. The shame was overwhelming, and I wanted nothing more than to scrub the memory from my brain permanently.
I took a deep breath, and then I froze. I hadn't taken a breath until that moment. I opened my eyes again in alarm. I wasn't alive, after all. But did pretty bedrooms belong in hell? And if I was in heaven, why was I still in pain? Was there somewhere in between?
I scanned the room. Three people were staring back at me—a distinguished-looking blond man who seemed familiar, a red-haired boy, and an auburn-haired woman with a kind smile. My first thought was that they were unreasonably beautiful, and my hand flew to my hair on instinct. My vanity had always prevented me from liking anyone who might be more beautiful then myself, but those people…their beauty transcended anything I had ever seen before.
"Hello, Rosalie. My name is Carlisle Cullen," the man said, cocking his head to the side. "How are you feeling?"
"I…" I hesitated. How was I feeling? "I feel okay, I think. Where am I? What happened?"
Apart from the burning in my throat, and the confusion, I felt fine. I wasn't in any pain, at least. I felt…weird. Like my body didn't belong to me and like I was hyperaware of everything around me. Sitting up, I slid to the end of the bed and kept my eyes on the people standing across the room.
"I know you must be confused." Carlisle walked closer with his arms held up in front of him, his palms facing me. "And I'm sure this is a lot to take in."
He began to explain that he had saved me from dying, and I was a vampire. A vampire? Was the man crazy? Vampires were the monsters in stories, not real life entities that could walk, talk, and breathe.
A snort startled me from my thoughts, and I noticed the boy with red hair staring at me with a scowl. I narrowed my eyes in response and wondered what his problem was.
"This isn't a fairytale, Rose. I assure you, vampires are quite real. No matter how much I wish it wasn't so." He spun on his heel and walked out of the room.
I was more confused than I had been before. How had he known what I was thinking?
"I'm sorry about Edward." The auburn-haired woman smiled at me. "He still struggles with what we are. I'm Esme, by the way."
I nodded, unable to show any emotion at her kind gesture, because I had no idea what to feel. I should have died on that street after what those animals had done to me. Yet, there I was, facing eternity as a used and broken woman. It was a daunting reality that I had to grasp.
I cleared my throat, trying to lessen the ache that was becoming more painful by the second. Carlisle looked at me with understanding, and my eyebrows pulled together.
"Come with us. I think we've waited long enough to hunt." He smiled and waved to the door.
I stood up and wondered what he meant by "hunt." Did he expect me to shoot something and get myself all dirty? I heard a sigh come from the other room, and I recognized the voice from earlier. That boy was really starting to get on my nerves.
I watched as the one called Edward disappeared out the front door, followed by Esme. Carlisle stood, waiting patiently for me to reach him. Looking out the door, I could see the forest. I still wasn't sure what was going on, but, for some reason, Carlisle didn't seem like a threat. I ran out the door and into the tree line. The speed I could run, almost like I was flying, startled me. My steps faltered from the shock, but I recovered quickly, continuing through the foliage.
"That's disgusting!" I screamed, tossing the deer carcass to the ground. As I'd entered the woods, I hadn't thought about where I was going; I just let my senses take over. I'd spied the buck, and, somehow, I'd known exactly what to do. But as I'd finished draining its blood, the taste hit me, and I'd wanted to drink a gallon of water to erase the foulness.
"I know. It's not very appetizing, but it's better than the alternative." Carlisle placed a hand on my shoulder.
"Oh, right," I muttered, remembering exactly what Carlisle had said about a vampire's normal "diet" before we'd caught up to the others. I shuddered at the thought of killing someone for sustenance. I was better than that.
Sitting back on my hands, I watched from the ground as the others took off to find their own kills. Even from that distance, with my vampire eyes, I had no trouble keeping tabs on them. They were graceful predators, quick and concise as they hunted down and drained their prey. Carlisle was flawless in his execution, and it wasn't hard to tell he'd been doing it for a while. Esme…she was more untidy as she grabbed a doe and brought it to her lips. I wondered if that would be the only one she'd go after, because honestly, she could use more practice.
Edward was fast and precise, the deer never standing a chance against him. His muscles rippled across his back, and for a fleeting moment, he was beautiful and deadly as his teeth sank into the buck. They all were, but him more so. I shook my head, clearing my thoughts. The guy is an asshole. No need to drool over him, Rosalie.
"Oh, for the love of…" Edward dropped the deer and sighed, staring up at the sky. "Could you keep your inappropriate thoughts to yourself?"
My head snapped in his direction, and without conscious thought, I was standing and glaring at him. "What do you mean 'keep my inappropriate thoughts to myself'? Get out of my head, you jerk. How do you know what I'm thinking anyway?"
"I can read minds, Rosalie. Trust me…it's a curse most days. It's worse now, because you're the vainest creature I've ever had the displeasure of meeting."
"I'll show you vain!" I took two steps toward him, and then I couldn't move. Looking behind me, I saw that Carlisle had a hold of me. So much for thinking he was harmless. "Let me go!"
I ripped myself away from him and looked around, daring them to say another word. When no one spoke up, I ran toward the house.
Things never did get better, and as the year passed, Edward and I found new ways to annoy each other. I'd learned in that time he was a self-righteous, pompous asshole who had a martyr complex. He isn't good enough. He's a monster. He's better than most vampires because of his diet. Blah, fucking, blah, blah, blah.
On more than one occasion, he'd called me a vain princess who wouldn't know kindness if it bit her in the ass. He was so creative with his insults, or so he thought. I tried to ignore him, but with him being a mind reader, it made it next to impossible. At those times, he'd just answer my thoughts—thoughts I couldn't control.
The only times he ever left me alone were when my mind had gone to darker places…like the night of my death. It seemed, though, Carlisle and Esme had a sixth sense for when the darkness tried to take over, because that was when they tried to comfort me. I didn't want, or need, their pity. I may have been a woman, but I was strong. I was Rosalie Hale, for Christ's sake. I could take care of myself.
"Rosalie, dear, are you all right?" Esme said, pulling me out of my memories. I looked up from the book I was reading and stared into her ocher eyes. The same emotion, worry, was plain in their depths. Her concern was suffocating at best, and it was getting harder and harder each day to not snap at her.
"I'm okay. Really." I set the book down and stood up, walking toward the front door. "I think I'll go for a hunt. I'll be back later."
She looked like she wanted to argue with me but kept her thoughts to herself. I stepped out the door, and in seconds, I was flying through the forest. It still amazed me each time, being able to see every intricate detail in a leaf or the smallest bug clinging to the tree bark. I shook my head and continued on until I came to a stream. Making an abrupt stop, I stared into the glass-like surface of the water, my reflection staring back at me. With the toe of my shoe, I dipped it ever so slightly and watched as ripples formed across the surface. They distorted and twisted the image, making the vision look more like how I'd felt on the inside since I'd woken up.
I was at my breaking point, living with beings who had it all figured out. Esme and Carlisle were the perfect couple. Separately, they had found a reason to keep going and bring meaning to their existence. Together, they seemed to have found the key to blissfulness. Even Edward—brooding, self-flagellating Edward—had found a purpose to his life. Maybe it wasn't much, but it was enough to keep him going.
I envied them and hated them for it at the same time. I wanted a reason, any reason, to justify the fact that I had been cheated out of death. Instead, I was left to try and figure out what life would mean for me. And all I had found so far was pain and despair.
You can't always get what you want, Rosalie.
As I stood there, staring into the water, it didn't take long for me to decide on my course of action. There really was only one way to save myself from the constant self-hate I seemed to live with on a day-to-day basis. So, with my mind made up, I turned and ran back toward the house.
"That was quick," Esme said absentmindedly as I walked inside. She was sitting in a chair, focused on her needlepoint. I took a deep breath. Her head turned toward me, a smile on her face. "Carlisle and Edward should be back soon. Maybe we can go out and have a night on the town. Doesn't that sound lovely?"
"I'm sorry, Esme, but I think it's time for me to move on."
Her mouth dropped open in shock. "What…what are you saying?"
I couldn't look at her, so I bowed my head. "I'm saying…I'm suffocating here. I need…something else. I hope you'll understand."
Esme looked at me with wide eyes. "Are you sure there isn't anything I can say to change your mind? You're a part of this family, Rose."
My silence seemed to answer her unspoken question, because she nodded in defeat. "Please know you'll always have a home with us if you want."
Tears that would never fall burned my eyes, and I rushed out of the room. Her kindness was like poison in my veins, threatening to destroy me. I had to get out of there. Now.
"Who's there?" I called out, scanning the area around me. I had been alone for days after I'd left the Cullens, and the peacefulness had been nice. I didn't have to worry about pretending I was okay, even though Edward always knew I was lying.
A twig snapped in the distance, causing me to look in the opposite direction. Three vampires glided into my line of sight. They were beautiful and feral-looking. The woman had red, wild hair, her clothes torn in places. One of the men had his dirty, blond locks tied back with a piece of leather and gave off a deadly aura. The other man was dark and cautious, moving slowly toward me. The other two stood back, the blond man had his hand wrapped around the woman's waist, but he never took his eyes off of me.
"Hello," the dark man said, his voice barely above a whisper. "I'm Laurent. And this is James and Victoria." He pointed to the two vampires behind him. "I'm sorry if we scared you, but we don't run into others of our kind very often."
I glared at him, wondering what the vampire really wanted. They could have kept on going and pretended like they hadn't sensed my presence, but they didn't. The whole thing made me suspicious.
But…I was all alone. Not a very good situation for me to be in. My only option was to play nice, hoping their intentions were good. Leaving the Cullens didn't sound like such a good idea anymore.
"I…uh…I." Words escaped me as I tried to think of something to say.
"Please. I'm sorry. I didn't mean to upset you." Laurent smiled. "We were about to hunt. Would you like to join us?"
Laurent seemed nice, but I was still wary of him and his companions, who had yet to say anything. As I thought about it, though, I realized I was lonely. By the color of their eyes, I could see that they preyed on humans. I knew I would never be able to drink someone's blood, but that didn't mean I couldn't see if, maybe, with this group, it was where I belonged.
"Um, sure. I guess. I don't drink human blood, but I will come with you."
Three pairs of red eyes stared at me, stunned. "You don't drink human blood? What do you do when you're thirsty?"
I smirked. "I'll tell you on the way."
Life with the nomads, as I came to find it was what they called themselves, was interesting. James and Victoria had opened up on the way to their hunt when I'd joined them. They had many questions about the lifestyle I'd chosen, and the family I'd learned it from. It was intriguing to them, but they never tried it for themselves, stating it went against their vampire nature.
I learned a lot about my companions the longer I stayed, too. I'd been correct in thinking James was dangerous. He was a skilled tracker, living for the kill. He toyed with his victims until he drove them to the brink of insanity, explaining that terror made the blood sweeter when I'd asked why he hunted that way.
Victoria was loyal to James and had an uncanny ability to escape danger. It was a trait that had served us well since I'd joined them, keeping us out of trouble on more than one occasion. She was quiet but always aware of her surroundings. She didn't to get to know me like Esme had tried to, and for that, I was grateful. I knew being there was only temporary, and I was glad I didn't have to worry about breaking ties with her when the time came.
Laurent, though…he confused me. From the start, he seemed to want to do things to please me. The first had been when he decided to try my diet. It only escalated from there. Many times, when he and James would go into a town for supplies we needed, he'd always come back with some kind of bauble he thought I might like, just to "cheer me up." The vain part of me loved the attention, remembering a time when men would bring me presents and fall at my feet just to gain my favor. However, it was also annoying. I was only going to end up hurting him in the end when I left, and I wasn't looking forward to it.
It had been months since I'd left the Cullens, and I was beginning to think I might have been rash in my decision. They really hadn't been that bad, and it was my fault I hadn't known them that well. I'd been too busy wallowing in my own personal hell to let anyone in. They had been kind and loving—well, Carlisle and Esme had been—and I was starting to think I needed that in my life. Not the disaffected semi-bond I'd formed with James, Victoria, and Laurent.
You can't always get what you want, Rosalie.
"Come with me. I want to show you something," Laurent said, pulling me through the trees. James and Victoria had separated from us earlier, wanting to spend some time alone. I'd been left with Laurent, and he'd been acting funny, pacing back and forth until he grabbed my hand and towed me through the forest.
"Where are we going?" My tone was a bit harsh, but I was bored. It was the only reason I was playing along.
"You'll see." There was a smile in his voice.
Within minutes, we crossed through some brush, and then we were standing next to a stream, the same stream I'd stood next to so long before when I'd chosen to leave. How had that happened? Had I really been so self-involved, I hadn't noticed I was right back to where I'd started from? The overwhelming evidence of my surroundings told me that I had.
"Rosalie." My name fell from his lips like a prayer.
My eyes found his, and the look I saw scared me. No. No. No.
He took a step forward, causing me to take a step back. His brows furrowed. "You are so beautiful. I find that I can't stop thinking about you." In the blink of an eye, he was standing before me. Laurent's hand came up to cup my face. I jerked my head back before he could make contact, my eyes going wide.
This cannot be happening.
"I think I've loved you from the first moment I saw you. I see so much sadness in you. I want to take it all away. Will you let me take it away?"
"Laurent." I said with caution. "Please…don't do this."
"Do what? Declare my feelings for you? I know that whatever haunts you has made it hard for you to open up. I can see it every time one of the others asks about where you came from. I want to know you, beautiful Rose. I want to love you like you deserve."
I could tell by the way he was talking that he was never going to listen to reason. He'd deluded himself into thinking we'd have a future. The only way to stop it was to break away before he became attached any more than he already had…and hurt him in the process. I didn't want or need a mate. I'd been robbed of all my dreams the day my so-called fiancé decided to take away my virtue and the only other thing I'd ever wanted in this world…a child. All that was left was a broken shell of a woman, and, maybe, it would be better if I was alone.
"Just…stop. It's never going to happen, Laurent. I was never going to stay forever. This was only temporary."
"We can leave together," he pleaded, trying to pull me to him. I ripped his hands away.
"No! I don't love you; I can barely stand you. Just leave me alone before you make a bigger fool of yourself." His face fell, and the pain I saw was more than I could bear. Shaking my head, I turned and ran, trying to escape the guilt I was feeling.
I concentrated on the scenery around me, the hurtful words I'd said ringing in my ears. I was poison. A cancer on the world, the hurt I was able to cause knowing no bounds. There was no salvation for me, the proof being that I had been left on the earth to cause damage to anyone that was unlucky enough to cross paths with me.
I began to cry tearless sobs. I wanted it to all end, but how did a vampire go about destroying themselves? Carlisle had told me in the first few days after awakening that it was virtually impossible for us to die. He hadn't told me exactly how to kill one of our kind, instead assuring me that I'd live forever. Bastard.
A scream stopped me in my tracks, and then a delicious, alluring scent slammed my senses. I knew immediately what it was. Human blood.
I am better than this, I chanted internally as my feet carried me toward the temptation. I fought myself with each step I took, but the pull was greater than my will to stick to my convictions. It was like I was possessed.
The sight of the man lying on the ground, bloody and broken, caused me to growl the moment he came into view. A large, brown bear was at his side, up on its hind legs, towered over the bleeding man. It snarled at its kill, and I hissed. The animal's head whipped around, and it roared at me, not liking that I'd come to steal its prey.
Falling down onto its feet, the bear charged right at me. I crouched, ready for the attack. It collided with me, and the bear never stood a chance. My teeth sank into the taut flesh of its neck, and I drained it in seconds.
As soon as the bear was lifeless and used up, I tossed the carcass to the ground. Sanity had returned after I'd been partially sated, and I saw the man—as a man and not food—for the first time. I walked slowly toward him, his features becoming easier to see with every step I took. I could see a rifle clutched in his hand, useless at his side. The bear had torn into his abdominal cavity, and his guts were hanging out. A shrill scream erupted from him, and his back arched.
But that wasn't what caused me to gasp. The moment I was standing over him, I really looked at him. He had black, curly hair and sapphire blue eyes. He looked like a cherub lying on the ground, a nightmarish version of a beautiful and pure fairytale creature. He reminded me so much of Henry, the son of my very best friend, Vera, from my mortal life. I'd wanted a cute little baby just like him, but that desire had been stolen from me. And, yet, an adult version of that very wish was lying at my feet.
I knew, without thinking, that this man had to live. There was no other option.
I picked him up and raced toward the Cullens, knowing I'd never had the strength to do the one action that would save him myself. When Carlisle had changed me, I had been close to death. The venom had healed me, and I was confident it would do the same for him. If I made it in time.
God, please let me get there in time.
"Help me, angel. Please, help me," The man said, gurgling and spitting out blood.
"It's going to be okay. I'm going to take you to someone who will make it all better."
I sent out a silent prayer, hoping I wasn't lying to the man.
His breaths were becoming shallower as I flew through the forest. No. He has to live.
After what felt like an eternity, the house came into view. I could hear that they were all home, and I let out a relieved breath. Carlisle would know what to do. He would save him.
The door opened, and Carlisle and Edward stepped outside, shock on their faces when they saw me. I knew the exact moment Edward realized what I had in my arms, because his face went from concern to anger. Carlisle stood still as a statue.
"What are you thinking, Rosalie? You have no right!" Edward yelled, his eyes burning with malice.
I ignored him, falling to my knees as I held the man close to my chest. "Carlisle, please. Help me."
Carlisle snapped out of his frozen state and ran toward me, bending down. "Give him to me."
I released him from my grasp, and Carlisle pulled him gently to his torso. I watched as he walked away from me, carrying the only thing that I'd wanted since I'd woken up.
"You can't do this! It's not fair to him!" Edward's voice broke me out of my trance. I stood up and turned toward him, steeling myself.
"Not fair to him! He asked me—begged me—to help him. Should I deny his last request?"
Edward shrunk back from my words. I didn't have time for him or his apparent lack of consideration for anyone but himself. I pushed past him and entered the house. The sight before me stopped me in my tracks.
The man was lying on a table in the middle of the room, and Carlisle was pushing his insides back into his body. I wanted to cry for the broken person I'd come to care for in such a short time. Esme stood on the other side of the room, unmoving. For a brief moment, I felt guilty for being too weak to do it myself. She was never known for her control, and I knew it had to be hard for her to be in the same room with a bleeding man.
That thought passed as quickly as it came, because that would have meant he would have died. And that was not an option. Esme's discomfort was a small price to pay for his last wish to be fulfilled.
I turned my attention back to Carlisle and saw that he'd finished putting the man back together. Tensing as Carlisle leaned down to inject venom into him, I fought with myself to remain still. Even though I was aware it was necessary, it went against every fiber of my being to let any harm come to the man. Seconds after Carlisle bit the cherub-faced man, the house was filled with gut-wrenching screams.
Carlisle was quick as he ran his tongue over the man's wounds, and I noticed that Edward had come back inside. He was holding the man down as Carlisle finished closing the gash. I was by his side the moment Carlisle was done, grabbing his hand and trying to soothe his pain with my words. I remembered that part from my own change, and no matter how much he'd asked for it, I wished I could take it away from him.
You can't always get what you want, Rosalie.
Edward's head snapped toward me as soon as those thoughts passed through my mind. He had a curious look on his face, but I couldn't think about what it meant. The only thing that mattered to me was comforting the person before me.
For three days, he thrashed, cursed God, and screamed. I sat next to him the entire time, knowing that being a witness to the hell he was going through was my punishment for wanting him. He'd become important to me, and I knew I was falling for him.
I hadn't meant for it to happen, but it did. I'd realized when I'd saw him, I'd found the person I was supposed to share my accursed existence with, and when I'd figured it out, I'd smiled. I'd actually fucking smiled. It scared me and thrilled me all at the same time.
I'd told him about what he was going to become as he burned, remembering everything Carlisle had told me. When I'd go silent, Carlisle would explain to me what we had to look forward to once he was awake. What a newborn was like.
It all made sense as he talked, and I finally understood why Edward, Esme, and Carlisle had acted so defensive when I'd awoken. I still didn't like it, but I was aware.
"You're real." The man sat up quickly, his mouth open wide.
I smiled at him and sighed. And then, a second later, I was being lifted up into the air and pulled against a strong chest. I pushed away from him, glaring.
"Who do you think you are? I don't even know you!"
A large smile spread across his face. "Oh, sorry. I'm Emmett."
He rocked back on his heels and stared at me. "Well, Emmett, you can't just go around and pick people up whenever you want. It's rude."
"I'm sorry, angel. It's just my way of thanking you for saving me."
He remembered me?
"I do. It's kind of hard to forget a gorgeous creature such as yourself…uh…"
Damn. I'd said that out loud.
I crossed my arms over my chest. "My name is Rosalie. Not angel, you oaf."
Emmett shrugged his shoulders. "Whatever you prefer, Rose."
What is wrong with this idiot?
Edward burst out laughing, bending over with his hand on his stomach. My eyes narrowed at him. "Shut up!"
Emmett growled at him, making Edward sober up quicker than I'd ever been able to accomplish. Huh. Maybe he wasn't so bad after all.
Emmett's face broke out into a grin. "I wish you could have seen your face! You're too damn easy."
Edward huffed and left the room, acting like his normal, uptight self. Carlisle shook his head, and Esme had a smirk on her face.
"Geeze. Some people can't take a joke."
"How are you feeling?" Carlisle asked Emmett, catching his attention.
"I'm okay. I guess." He shrugged, a devilish smile on his lips.
I was shocked by his enthusiasm and couldn't see how he could think being a vampire was anything other than a curse. But when Carlisle asked him if he'd like to hunt, Emmett just grabbed my hand, barreling out the door and practically dragging me along with him. I was annoyed, but at the same time, I was happy.
Maybe Emmett was what I had been missing and was the key to finding happiness in life. He was everything I'd never known I needed, and nothing I'd ever thought I'd want. Yet, he'd stolen my cold, shriveled up heart in the short amount of time I'd known him. Maybe, in time, he'd make my unbearable existence much more bearable.
You can't always get what you want, but in the end, you might just find something better.
Many thanks and love to DivineInspiration for letting me have this plot bunny for the ADJ compilation. Without her generousity, there's no way I'd have been able to contribte to the cause. And for prereading it, too.
I also need to thank, and give hugs to, dinx for using her amazing beta skills for this. She's always there to edit whatever crazy piece I come up with, and I appreciate her more than she'll ever know for it.