School had very quickly become awkward again. Bella’s eyes seemed to slip right over her when Rosalie was watching her, and yet were on her like a vise whenever she wasn’t. It made for tension so thick that she could barely breathe. She could feel Bella fuming at her, which was nowhere near as intimidating as how much she was fuming at herself. She had no interest in looking at Bella anyway, and yet, she couldn’t seem to stop herself.
Edward and Bella weren’t sitting with them again. If it had ever been clear that Bella had forced Edward to do that so that she could get to know his sister, it was now when they entered the cafeteria and then immediately sat at the table across the way, Bella’s back to her.
She hated that back, hated the wall it represented.
Not that she would show it in any way. When Bella did look over at her, she wasn’t looking back. In fact, she had begun to act as though Bella no longer existed at all, something that suited her – and her guilt – just fine.
When Bella came over to the house after school, Rosalie spent the time that Bella and Edward were in the house out with the car, the car bay door closed tightly, excluding herself as much as possible.
It was normal. It was the way things had been. It was the way things should be. It was right.
She hated it.
Hunting night came around, and Rosalie was up in her room when the happy couple walked in downstairs.
“Bella’s here,” Emmett said softly as he came up behind her, wrapping her up and kissing her neck.
She just nodded, continuing to braid her hair in preparation for hunting.
His face in the mirror looked concerned like he had questions but they both knew even whispering would be heard.
The scent filled the room from below, Bella slightly damp from the rain. The smell of her skin. That scent that settled over her like a mist. It had changed somehow, Rose supposed maybe in the same way that Emmett swore that Rosalie’s scent had changed.
It settled on her now, calming her nerves, saying an unwelcome hello.
She sniffed and finished her braid.
“Let’s go. I wanna get out of here.”
“Cool. Let’s go.”
At a human speed and hand in hand, they went down the stairs to where the family was gathered in the living room.
"What do you mean, Edward?" Esme was asking.
"I don't know." He shook his head in confusion. "Everyone's thoughts have been strangely... avoidant recently."
Rosalie paused on the stairs, her eyes going wide. She hadn't thought about the fact that in order to keep her secret, many people in the family were hiding their thoughts. Jasper and Emmett she understood, but she was surprised to realize that about Alice. Why?
She glanced at Alice's face and realized but of course, she knew why. Alice's visions were subjective. Rosalie didn't know what Alice had seen, but whatever it was, there was no way she would want to let him see something that would upset him.
"Well, I don't know, Edward." Esme smiled at at his cheek. "As far as I know, there's no one here trying to hide anything."
“Are we going?” she asked, interrupting them. She didn’t look at the girl under Edward’s arm and stood with her usual pissy straight back, only when she spoke her voice had broken just a little bit in the middle, betraying her feelings.
Feelings she didn’t want.
Didn’t have, damn it, didn’t have.
Emmett gave her a pitying glance and her teeth ground.
“I’ll be outside,” she snapped and turned to leave.
Edward’s head had whipped up a moment before, indignant confusion on his face. “What do you mean? You’re not coming.”
She looked down at her clothes as if confused, touched her braid and gasped mockingly. “My god. It looks like I am.” She crossed her arms, her back straight, her face set. “Strange,” she added in a sarcastic monotone. Not looking at him, she added spitefully, “Why? Did you think I was doing something else?” She could feel Bella’s eyes on her for the first time since she had come down, a feeling that was far too fucking welcome but ignored them completely. She fought, refusing to let her eyes drop.
Edward scoffed, looking like a parent who’s babysitter backed out at the last second. Which, she supposed that was exactly what he was. “Well, who’s going to stay with her then?”
Rose just shrugged a shoulder apathetically.
Apathy was the antithesis of what she felt. She cared. She wanted to stay.
She turned away, heading out to the back porch to wait, ignoring the caress of that gaze as she went.
It didn’t have to be this way. She could have been heading out to the car bay or settling onto the couch with Bella so close to her. She could have made an excuse and had Bella a little closer than normal, or she could have simply sat there with her thoughts free and looked at her for hours. But no. She had to ruin everything.
God damn it! Her hands balled into fists, her jaw hard. She hated when she caught herself having thoughts like that. They were ridiculous. And dramatic.
She glanced back, nervous. That thought had been a little too telling. Had Edward... but he was busy, it seemed, and entirely aware that anyone existed outside of his own world, his own needs.
“I’ll stay, don’t worry, Edward,” Alice promised, glaring at Rosalie.
Eyebrows up, she turned away, her throat and mouth feeling overly dry.
Rosalie’s breath stopped as Bella spoke for the first time.
She hadn’t noticed but Bella had been unusually quiet, hadn’t she? Was that because of her? Was she really kidding herself to believe that she could have any type of effect on Bella?
“Do you mind if Rosalie stays with me?”
She had spun on her heels so fast that she should have fallen. Instead, with a vampire grace, she turned so quickly that Bella had barely finished saying the first few letters of her name. What? Had she misheard?
“I just want to finish the movie we were watching last time.”
She stared at Bella, dumbfounded.
Inside Emmett began to laugh.
What the fuck was this? Why was she doing this? Hope sprung to life, only to be doused by reality. She wasn’t asking because she wanted to see her. There was something else happening there. Arms crossed and fingers digging into her own skin, she stepped back through the door and hovered just inside. She did her best to be sure of her voice when she spoke. “I’m going hunting.” She spoke to Bella, but it was Edward she was looking at.
“Oh but Rose, you promised we could finish the movie, remember?”
Bemused, she let her gaze drop, trying to pull the reason for this out of her skin.
“Yeah, Rose.” Emmett insisted, coming up beside her.
Her hand swung out, slapping his arm. He chuckled, backing away.
“You and Rose watch movies?” Edward asked, looking between them and yet not seeming to notice that she and Bella were in a stare-off.
Her eyes narrowed coldly.
Suddenly Bella’s face broke into a huge smile. “Oh, Rose didn’t tell you? She and I are friends now.”
Alarmed, Rose’s eyes widened just a bit. She wanted to just turn and leave, to take the choice away from anyone else, but her feet were nailed to the floor, unable to move out of her statue form. They were friends?
“Oh Rose, watch the movie with Bella.” Esme’s voice made her eyes flick to her. She sounded so taken and so hopeful. She sounded like all of her hope for Rosalie as a person was suddenly cemented by this one good act, by the fact that she and Bella watched movies together.
Jaw tight, she saw the look on Alice’s face and frowned.
“No, I think I should stay,” Alice shrugged. “You go ahead, Rose.”
“Good.” She turned toward the door.
“No, I really want it to be Rose. Is that okay, Alice?”
Alice looked uncomfortable. “No, I don’t think she should. I think—”
“What? Afraid I might eat her?” She didn’t understand this, nor did she want to say – yes, she did – but Alice refusing to let her was interesting and enough to trigger her contrary side.
“No,” Alice snapped, but she was looking between them as if she thought that might be exactly the case.
“So you think I’m a threat to her?”
“Alice!” Esme chided and Alice, unused to ever being in trouble, cowered.
“Fine.” Her voice, usually like beautiful carved crystal, was as sharp as cut glass.
“Oh, I didn’t say I was staying. I just thought it was interesting that you don’t want me to.”
Everyone’s eyes were on her. Esme looked like her hopes were as fragile as tissue paper, making Rosalie feel like she would be a tyrant if she ripped them up. Carlisle’s eyes were apprising as if waiting to see but not expecting her to do the right thing. And Bella’s face. She studied it, trying to pull the answer from it, but all she saw was the challenge in it.
Fine. She would do this.
She turned and started back upstairs.
She stood in the center of her dark room, unsure what to do with herself.
She could leave anyway. Bella would be fine. She was safe in the Cullen house.
Of course, if she left, Bella might try to follow her and fall off a cliff or get eaten by something. That seemed very likely.
She watched the shadows below that made up her family as they strolled out casually. Esme and Carlisle were hand in hand. Alice was teasing Jasper and as she watched Alice let out a cry and leapt onto his back, making him laugh. Edward was looking behind him every few moments like it pained him to leave. Just before they all broke into a run, Emmett paused and looked back at their window. His smile was small as he raised a hand in farewell.
She didn’t uncross her arms. She just stared back at him, seeing the sadness there that she knew he was trying to hide.
He turned and the coven all picked up their pace, running through the long clearing, leapt over the river and disappeared into the trees.
She watched them until she couldn’t make out their shapes anymore, her ears pricked and listening for any noise below her. It was silent; so silent that if she couldn’t hear the steady breath and the heartbeat, she would have thought she had gone too. What was Bella doing? The same thing that she was? Was she standing there, listening, waiting to see what would happen now?
Her thoughts releasing, she pictured Bella slowly making her way up the stairs, she pictured her entering her bedroom and instead of whatever she had planned, coming over and wrapping herself in Rose’s arms. She pictured Bella, her hands warm and soft slipping under her shirt, her lips on hers, having stayed back just to kiss her again.
She let out a nearly soundless scoff that came out more like a moan.
When pigs fly.
The sound of feet pulled Rosalie out of that small fantasy. Bella had begun to walk. Rose listened but there was no question of where Bella was going.
She was heading to the stairs.
Bella was coming up!
Eyes wide, she glanced around, thinking again of simply taking off. What the hell should she be doing? She picked up a book from the nightstand and flopped on the bed as if she had simply been reading without a care in the world. Then she dropped it and was halfway to the bathroom for a shower when she changed her mind again. She didn’t think that Bella would come in to challenge her, but she also didn’t want to trap herself in the bathroom, because Bella would probably wait for her.
Bella’s feet scuffed light in the hallway, just outside the door, and because she had no idea what else to do, Rosalie just reacted. In two steps she had... launched herself, shooting through her bedroom window, away from whatever had been coming and onto the grass of the backyard. She landed easily, the drop not much of one for her at all, not when she could jump from the side of a mountain and never notice the bump when she landed. Still she paused, her legs slightly bent, her head cocked, trying to make sense of what she had just done.
She had jumped – out - of - the - window in order to avoid Bella.
She had jumped out of the god damn window to avoid a teenage girl.
She would never tell anyone about this, she definitively decided.
Quietly she went back inside, listening as Bella opened her bedroom door above and said her name.
She went to the couch and settled herself there. She didn’t care what Bella wanted. She wasn’t so scary. She wasn’t so – Bella’s feet turned, heading back down the stairs and with a thrill of fear, she moved at full vampire speed out to the car bay.
No big deal, she would work on the car. She needed an activity, after all.
Why hadn’t they put a lock on the car bay? It was stupid. There were expensive cars out there! There should be a lock!
With no way to keep Bella out, and her nerves on a hair-trigger, by the time Bella’s feet, stomping now, were halfway down the walk to the car bay, Rosalie had gone. She had slipped out the opposite side door, around the house in a wide circle, to enter on the opposite side, and head back up to her bedroom. Her breath was coming fast and hard, not from excursion so much as blind panic.
She didn’t want to hear it. She didn’t want to hear whatever horrible thing Bella had to say to her, because it would be horrible.
She listened to Bella’s feet stomping from the car bay, her heart beating slow and hard, pumping the blood faster than normal. She could all but hear Bella’s clenched teeth. The front door slammed behind Bella as she entered again. “I can hear you moving!” she yelled, making Rose’s skin prickle. She snorted, her hand covering her mouth to hide her laugh.
It wasn’t funny, but it was kind of... cute.
Bella was just outside of her door when she once again slipped through the window and back down to the living room.
“I know you’re here!” Bella shouted at the top of her lungs.
Rosalie laughed in the middle of the living room, making Bella come fast. Rose disappeared like smoke. “Guuuuh!” Bella growled. “Rose!”
Her fear was dividing, twisting into fun, Rosalie shimmied up the drainpipe and into Edward’s open window.
Ugh, the whole room smelled of pretention, Rosalie internally groaned, moving back to her bedroom just as Bella reached the empty living room with another growl. The back door closed and Rosalie laughed, listening to her head back out to the car bay.
She wasn’t sure she was supposed to be having fun with this, but she was. She chuckled as the car bay door opened, there was a pause, and then it slammed again. She waited until Bella was back inside, the stairs, and about to open her door before she head out the window.
Downstairs she paused, her head cocked. Bella was upstairs in her bedroom. Had she given up? No… was that her closet door?
Suddenly Bella’s voice boomed out, loud and insistent in a way that Rosalie hadn’t heard before. “ROSALIE HALE, GET YOUR BUTT IN HERE NOW OR THESE SHOES ARE GOING TO GET IT!”
Rosalie was upstairs and in front of her before ‘get it’ had even come out of Bella’s mouth.
She hissed when she saw the shoes in Bella’s hand. “Those are Valentino!” Black and beige with little metal studs on them, they were from a limited line.
“Look,” Bella drooled, reminding Rose very much of herself at that moment. “It’s the amazing disappearing woman. What were you going out the window?”
“Those cost over a thousand dollars, Bella!” Rosalie hissed. “Put. Them. Down!”
Startled, Bella looked at the shoes as if they were suddenly poison. “Oh my god,” Bella suddenly screeched, holding them out. “What is wrong with you? They’re just shoes! No one should spend that much on shoes!”
Rosalie took them, fuming, and gently placed them back on the shoe rack with loving care. “Touch my shoes again, and I will end you!” Rosalie snarled low and deep, her face very close to Bella’s to make her menacing point.
Bella just scoffed and Rose was amazing to see that she did not look scared at all. Happiness and a state of high piss off both flooded her at that. Bella wasn’t scared of her! But also, Bella wasn’t scared of her.
“You know, if you can’t figure out what to do with your money, there are charities—” Bella started, making Rosalie stare.
“I donate annually, thank you,” she purred, turning to sit on her bed. She didn’t dare leave Bella alone with her shoes.
Bella stayed where she was, her face still red from having yelled at Rose, making her look a lot like the last time they were alone together.
She finally sighed, taking in air filled with Bella. “What do you want, Bella? Why did you make me stay?”
Bella’s hands balled into fists at her sides.
Rosalie didn’t know what she had expected, but it certainly wasn’t what Bella said.
“You know, I’ve been thinking since, err, last week.”
“Woooow.” Rosalie moaned as if the idea that Bella had been thinking was a great achievement.
“You’ve always been a bitch to me.”
Instantly offended, Rose’s head snapped back around to look at Bella. “Excuse me?”
“Well maybe not anymore,” Bella amended, speaking to herself more than Rose. “But you always were for like no reason at all.”
Rose glowered. There was nothing more annoying than when a person spoke the truth.
“So I started to think that maybe there’s a reason why you’ve always been a bitch—”
“Can you stop calling me a bitch, thank you very much?”
Rose watched, trying to swallow down the building dread, working hard to keep her face blank. She didn’t like where this was going.
Bella looked back at her, searching her face for a long moment before she finally spoke. “You’re always nearby.”
Rose gave a rude snort and looked back out the large windows.
“Have you noticed that, Rose?” Bella’s voice wasn’t the same now. The indignance, the anger, it had all melted away. It was smooth, rich now, matching that scent that wasn’t quite chocolate and making Rose want to turn to her, go to her. She wanted to know what she was thinking, but she didn’t want to know at all.
“You’re always in my house. Am I supposed to automatically leave when you’re nearby?”
“And you’re always watching me. You stand up for me. I don’t know what it means but it means something.”
Rose bit the inside of her cheek, willing herself to stay on the bed and not to make a run for it, a real run for it now.
There was no way she had figured it out, right? That was impossible. It had to be. How could she have?
“Don’t flatter yourself.” But the rebuke somehow didn’t hold the power that Rose had meant it to.
Bella’s shoulders squared, angered by Rosalie’s brush off. “I think you have feelings for me.”
A breath came from Rose in a long thin stream, waiting for more. She searched Bella’s face, but she couldn’t see anymore in it. “My,” she purred, her tone laced with venom. “Aren’t we feeling cocky.”
Bella blinked a few times and the quiet confidence that had been there a moment before wilted. In came the insecurity that was so often in her face when she was with Edward.
Rose looked away, aghast. She had needed to make her doubt herself. That had been essential, but she hadn’t planned on how it would feel. Was she no better than her brother?
“I think you do.”
Rosalie laughed, a dry crack. “I think you’re nuts.”
Though Bella’s heartrate was slowly climbing and her cheeks and neck were growing splotchily pink, Bella refused to be swayed. She wasn’t going to back down, even if she thought that she might be wrong, Bella wouldn’t be backing down. “You do, Rose, we both know you do.”
What would happen if she just told her? What if she simply said the words ‘you are mine?’ What then?
Bella had kissed her back the week before, and that was an important fact to remember.
There were other issues at play.
If she said the words and Bella believed them, then what? A wedding where all of their friends and family would come to celebrate them because they totally accepted them? A few half-human, half-vampire babies? A few cars, a house they shared, the PTA? None of that was in the cards for them because she was a vampire. What was more likely was a few short years of dating until the town began to make uneasy jokes about how the Cullens didn’t age. A few short years until they had to pass Bella off as Rose’s mother because of their obvious age difference. A few short years until Bella was buried somewhere, having lived the life that was rightfully hers until it had come to an end.
“What does that look mean?”
Rosalie jumped, surprised by Bella’s sudden frustrated yell.
“What do you want me to say?” Rose shouted back.
Bella stumbled for words for a moment, obviously frustrated. “I – I – I’m telling you what I want! I want you to tell me why you kissed me. I want you to tell me why you look at me like that!”
“Why—” Rosalie groaned, her head falling into her hands. “Why does it matter so much?”
But it seemed, Bella couldn’t answer that. She just stood in front of her, face set and waiting. “I just want to know,” she finally got out.
“That’s not a real reason.”
“Why would you do that, Rose? Just tell me!”
“Because!” she exploded to her feet and began pacing. “Because you’re my – my—”
“You’re what? Sister in law?’ Bella shouted. “We’re sure not friends because every attempt I’ve made to be your friend has been met with nastiness and – and meanness!”
Rosalie winced. Ow. She glared at her through the pain of that, not saying anything.
“Fine. Don’t tell me.” Bella turned, stomping out of the door.
Rose watched her go, her heart feeling heavy. She had fucked things up so badly, what else could she do?
She settled down on her bed. She spent the rest of the night there, listening to Bella downstairs, not watching TV, not doing much of anything except sitting. Upstairs, Rose did the same, locked in misery.