"Jake, Jake! Mom! Look at this cute carrot!" Nessie squealed, holding up a stuffed cartooney carrot. I smiled at her, and tossed one into the large yellow bag in our cart.
Renesmee smiled at me, and my world stopped. She was the most amazing, incredible, breathtaking, sincere, and lovely creature that walked this earth. Her body was developed to about the age of eleven, and she was just like the little sister I never had. Only so, so much better.
Her smile faltered, and she looked down at her empty hands, looking embarrassed or something. I abandoned the cart, and whipped her up on to my shoulders. She let out a short, sharp gasp, but when I twisted my head to look up at her, she was smiling again. I grinned back at her.
"Geez, Dog, save the pedo for when we're at home." Emmett muttered to me. I looked around me, suddenly realizing that a few people were starting to stare at us.
"Now, down to business, people." Edward said solemnly. "We need to find a few-"He rattled off a long list of Swedish names that I couldn't pronounce if I wanted to-"and also anything you think we might need. We don't really have a budget… So, if you like it, throw it in the cart."
Bella and I just gawked at them.
"No… Budget?" She squeaked.
"Rich leeches." I commented to Nessie. She smacked my head.
"I'm very good with playing the stock market." Itsy-bitsy Alice explained to me, discreetly taping the side of her head.
I rolled my eyes at her. Renesmee dragged her fingers along a display, and then snagged a sheepskin from the top of the pile. She threw it in the cart. I turned around to look up at her, one eyebrow raised. She giggled, and then leaned down to whisper in my ear.
"It feels nice… like your fur. I wanted a little bit of you in my room." Her voice was low, her nice warm breath tickling my ear. I shivered, glancing towards Edward. He was studiously ignoring us as he walked down the aisle.
"You could have one of my ears or something to put in a vase." I teased her, "It'd probably just grow back or something."
Rosalie snorted. "Van Gogh, I don't think that's exactly what she wants for Christmas; a bloody wolf ear isn't really a great conversation piece."
"I would wash it off first," I said, mock offense in my voice, "And I think it would be a great conversation piece. Tons of people would ask about it, I'm sure."
I heard Alice and Jasper chuckling from ahead of us.
"Better than some coffee table book about the Amish lifestyle." I added.
We gathered around Edward and Bella, who were stopped, looking at two cabinets which looked exactly the same to me.
"Abstract… Aplaid?" I heard Bella ask Edward.
"Abstrakt Apladd." He corrected(pompous jerk, I thought, hoping he would hear) , pointing to the tag, and whispering something to her about the Swedish language being something fun for them to learn together. Then they started whispering back and forth, finally it just dissolved in to necking behind a cabinet door.
I sighed. "Hey Ness, wanna go to the Kid's section?" I asked her.
She craned her head until it was fully upside-down in front of mine. "Jake," She said seriously, "I'm a young adult now. My teacher said. She even said I could start reading books for teenagers!" She smiled at me, and I hoped she couldn't hear my heart stutter with her half vampire ears.
"That's great Ness, but I don't think that they have a young adult furniture section." I said gently.
She sniffed, but pulled herself up to her normal height again on my shoulders.
We continued down the concrete floor until we reached the big archway that signaled the entrance to the kid's area.
She snorted at the array of chairs that were hanging on the walls around the big doorway, but insisted I let her down. She crawled through the small tunnel that was provided for the really little kids, and then stuck her little head back to my side. She motioned with one finger that I should follow. I sighed. The person I would kill for, die for, protect to the very end, do anything at all for, and apparently the face that I would shove my huge body through a tiny kiddy tunnel for.
I wriggled through. She was already perusing by the time I had gotten to the other side, looking at a little bed set up. She eyed the bed, taking in the size, then glanced up at me as I walked up. She did the embarrassed thing again, which nearly drove me crazy.
She moved on to the next room, a boy's one this time, with fake leaves hanging from the ceiling, and monkeys painted on the walls. She didn't seem to notice where she was, appraising the room the same way she had been before, looking at the bed for a moment and then quickly looking away.
"Alright, I have to know." I admitted after the forth room where she'd looked away from the bed quickly.
She looked up innocently.
"The bed thing." I whispered, in case it was something that was really embarrassing, and she didn't want me talking about it publicly. It didn't really matter, there were only a few other people. I'd only seen our family, a group of riled up kids (apparently without parents) who were jumping from bed to bed, a few teenagers texting in chairs, two couples, and one woman and her daughter.
She refused to look at me, and just muttered that she was thinking about buying a new bed.
I didn't understand why that would be blush-worthy, but I remembered Bella blushing over the weirdest things, too, and just put it off as a girl thing.
I hugged her to my side, and her arms wrapped around my waist, not long enough to reach all the way around. She was about 4'9", and I'm sure I looked like her father or something to passerby. But with her arms around my waist, I couldn't imagine she wouldn't hear the rumble that erupted from my stomach.
She laughed. "Lunchtime already?" She asked, looking at the delicate silver watch on her wrist. It read 11:30.
I consulted a map, and then consulted a pimply-faced man in a yellow shirt a few minutes later when we still couldn't find the food. When we arrived and were waiting in line, she used her tiny cell phone, which it seemed like she's had since birth, to tell the other Cullens to meet us for lunch. I got three hotdogs (Nessie assured me that her aunts and uncles would let me eat their food, too), and she got some chicken tenders.
A few minutes later we had chosen our area in by the windows looking over the parking lot, and the other Cullens were waiting for their yummy props.
They arrived like an odd little parade, Edward and Bella first, her nose turned up at the tray she was holding, and Edward pushing his overflowing cart. Next came Emmett, holding another tray loaded with food for me, and Blondie next to him, pushing a second cart that wasn't as full. Then Jasper and Alice, Jasper carrying even more food, and Alice carrying a stack of small brochures.
I scooted my chair closer to Renesmee, Making room for Bella next to me, and then Edward next to her. When Alice set down the papers and took her seat next to Edward, I nodded my chin at the brochures, asking what they were after I swallowed the bite I was on.
She smiled, holding up the one on top, which was halfway filled with her girly handwriting. "We have to write down all the names of the things we can't carry."
I raised an eyebrow at her, glanced around the cafeteria to make sure no humans were within hearing distance, and then asked why they couldn't just use Emmett or something.
She rolled her eyes. "Can't carry without humans noticing, I should say. You may not be surprised by my being able to lift a minivan, but others might."
I nodded, too busy chewing to answer. We were pretty silent then, until Edward suddenly hissed. My body instantly reacted, I put one hand on Renesmee's leg, and then swept my eyes around the room, looking for danger. I saw none, so I turned to Edward in confusion. Now his eyes were boring into my left hand, which was sitting a little too high on Nessie's thigh. I withdrew my hand quickly.
"Hey, I didn't mean to, you know I don't-" I started to protest, but now he was concentrating on whatever had made him hiss the first time.
"Emmett, don't even think about-" Edward started to hiss, but was cut off by the huge vampire wiggling his finger at us to move closer. We all leaned towards the center of the table.
"Vote," He started, and I knew this was either going to be good, or very bad, because the little freaky pyhsicic was bouncing up and down in her chair, "Who wants to stay here overnight?"
Everyone's gaze went to Blondie, making it clear that we were going around the table counterclockwise. She nodded eagerly, sending a sexy wink in Emmett's direction.
Nessie was already cheering and squealing before he could even ask her. "Yes, yes, yes, yes!" She squeaked.
I grinned widely. "Absolutely!" Anything that would make Nessie smile like that… I loved the way her eyes sparkled in the dull light coming from the clouded sun outside the windows, and the way her smile was so innocent. Her brown eyes dancing from face to face around her, finally landing on mine. There was a bit of confusion as she took in my face, which was probably slack-jawed or something, but then she smiled even wider at me, eyes full of adoration that was just irresistible, and I swear that my whole body froze.
But then I realized my emotions were waaaay more lovey-dovey than normal. I tore my eyes off her unwillingly, and I saw Emmett and Rosalie deep in each other's mouths, Edward and Bella just one seat over with their foreheads together, whispering, and, finally, the cause of all the problems; Jasper staring deep in to Alice's eyes.
"Jasper!" I hissed across the table.
Everyone's eyes snapped up, and Edward was suddenly upright, Bella in her seat (Looking slightly pouty) next to him. We all heard the sounds of humans coming up to the cafeteria, and I shifted Renesmee slightly farther away from me. As Emmett had so eloquently put it, I needed to "Keep the pedo at home." The couple were obviously the parents of the unwatched children, but now they were altogether, several smaller ones with those backpack-leash things, and two older ones, a girl and a boy, who were texting and flirting with the other teenagers we'd seen, respectively.
"We'll meet up at the big storage floor at ten minutes before closing," Emmett muttered under his breath eagerly. "Get a flashlights for Ness, bedding, you know, whatever you need."
He leaned back again, and then leaned forward to add a P.s.:
"Anybody needing to go to the bathroom at night or whatever," He pointedly glanced at me and Nessie, "Needs to be careful what route you take; me and Rose will be in, ah…." He thought for a moment, then winked at Blondie, "Kitchenware." Blondie giggled, and I had the strong urge to cover Nessie's ears.
"Bed display." Alice didn't look away from Jasper, and didn't show the least bit of embarrassment.
We all sort of waited for the next one, until I realized it was me.
"What?" I asked. "I mean, it's not like we- I mean, you guys don't go to the bathroom, right, so…" I was really confused and nervous, considering we were having a conversation declaring where we would be sleeping with our gal-pals on an illegal sleepover, and my gal pal's dad was just one seat over. It was enough to make anyone sweat.
"Emmett…. Travels." Edward muttered for my benefit, shuddering.
I heard Emmett chuckle from across the table. I shuddered.
"Alright, well, uh… Ness, I guess you're staying with me then… Where would you like to be?" This was another hard thing to say, because I was 6' 5" and asking a roughly eleven year old girl where she would like to sleep (Just sleep! I shouted mentally to Edward) with me.
"Ummmmmmmmmmmmmmmm," She said, deep in thought. "Toys. But we have to bring pillows and stuff, I don't want to sleep on the floor."
Everyone nodded, committing this to memory. Is that anywhere near Kitchenware? I asked Edward nervously in my head. While Nessie was staring out the window, He mouthed 'Opposite end of the building.' I sighed in relief.
Edward suddenly looked nervous. "Well, uh, Bella and I…," He qued me, I clapped my hands over Renesmee's ears. Mature or not, nobody wanted to know or think about that kind of stuff involving their parents. "The 270 square foot house model on the second floor."
I took my hands off Renesmee's ears.
"Well, me and Ness have to go and find some bed stuff…" I trailed off. I was pretty full after my fifteenth hotdog(I had gotten to eat all their props, as promised).
"Wait, wait," Alice chirped. "Only you, Ness, Em, and Rose voted! I think Jasper, Bella, Edward, and I get a say!"
We all rolled our eyes in synchronization.
"Fine," Alice pouted. "Yeah, we're sleeping over."
If not for the other families who were now filing in, I had feeling the group would have hooted and hollered. As it is, we exchanged grins.
Nessie picked out several mattress toppers, a few pillows (she even asked me if I slept on my belly, my side, or my back. Can you believe they have different pillows for all that? I told her I slept when I wasn't running patrols.), and more sheepskins. She picked out several teddy bears, two hand crank flashlights, and she took the liberty of taking some pajamas out of the closets in the model homes.
"Jacob, what am I going to wear to bed?" She asked me, gesturing to her jeans and tee shirt (the tee had a corvette on it, a gift from me last christmas).
I thought about that. She could wear what she was wearing, but it was pretty clear she didn't want to wear them. I took a quick peek through the women's half of the fake closet, and found absolutely nothing suitable. I thought really hard.
"Ness, weren't there some pjs in the trunk of the car from Claire's sleepover birthday?" I asked, crossing my fingers and hoping to god that she wouldn't insist on sleeping in her undies.
She nodded. She grabbed her phone from her pocket, sent a quick text to another member of the family, and continued searching for stuff we might need.
In my mind, I wiped my forehead with a loud phew. Edward would have killed me even if I covered my eyes all night and refused to get within five feet of her.
A few moments later, as we were cruising down an aisle, debating if we needed lights or candles, Alice showed up, Jasper at her side. She handed Renesmee the stack of pink fabric, and that froze me in my tracks.
"Uh, Ness?" I strangled out, after searching my head and finding no solution whatsoever.
She looked up at me, concerned with my voice.
"Where are you going to change?" I asked her.
She nodded. "We need a room separator."
The cartooney vision of me wiping my brow showed up in my head again.
We crouched on the very tippity top shelf, about a hundred feet off the concrete floor. I heard gruff voices saying they 'saw nothing over here', and 'clear on this floor'. Finally I heard lots of clicks, locking, grinding sounds, and the next sound was the warehouse workers outside, saying good night to each other. Everything was silent as I heard their cars rumble to life and drive away.
"SWEEEEEEEEEEEEEET!" Emmett bellowed, breaking the silence. Simultaneously, 4 flashlights came on and danced around the ceiling.
I grinned down at Renesmee, and she smiled up at me.
I looked away before the raging emotions in the room could catch me up in her eyes again.
I heard the other vampires scurrying down to floor level, and I offered Renesmee my back. She jumped on without hesitation.
We all gathered just in front of the shelf we were on.
"Um, could you guys give us, like a five minute head start?" I asked.
"Make it three," Emmett growled at Blondie's cleavage. Blondie giggled again.
I kept Ness on my back, and dashed to the spot where we'd decided we'd stay. We slipped on the earphones that we'd picked up, no music, just for the noise cancellation. We quickly set up.
We were going to be sleeping on a display of stuffed animals, with mattress toppers on top of that. We threw the comforter over the whole ensemble, and I helped Renesmee scramble into the big mess of fluffiness, and then I climbed in after her.
And then I was at a loss again. She'd put both mattress toppers right next to each other, so it was like one big connected bed. I decided I'd wing it and deal with the consequences later. I crawled in next to her, my left arm around her body, which was now curling up against my side.
I was only asleep for a few minutes, it felt like, but Renesmee woke me with her shaking body. She quivered, and then whimpered. Then her teeth were bared, and I heard a growl slip through them. I gently shook her, and she woke, and then instantly burst into tears. I held her as she rocked against my side.
She knew that we wouldn't be able to hear each other very well with the headphones on, so she reached up to me, touching my face. She'd shown me her dreams this way many times before.
I watched as the dream unfolded. I was standing there, crouched in my wolf form, ready to strike at the threat that lay just across the clearing from me. I saw Renesmee in the background, futilely begging the threat (which changed shape from werewolf, to vampire, to black cloud, to other random threatening shapes constantly) not to hurt me.
The shape finally settled on huge, pure white wolf that pulled back to spring at me. At this point, the dream became scary for me. Renesmee ran at top speed to get in between us, but the wolf simply leaped over her, and attacked me.
She looked up at me, tears still streaming.
I pulled the headphones off hesitantly. I didn't hear any moaning or anything. I didn't know why, and I didn't want to. She slipped her's off, as well.
"Oh, Jacob!" She wept into my chest.
I tried to soothe her, petting her hair, stroking her back.
"I know, Honey, I know. I love you. Don't worry, I'm fine. I know, I know..." I chanted over and over again.
Then a teary laugh broke through the serious moment.
"Jake?" She asked, looking up at me with eyes that were sparkling with tears, "I need to go to the bathroom."
It was so anticlimactic that I had to laugh a little. She sniffled, and wiped her tears away with the back of my shirt from the model homes.
We climbed out of the stuffed animal bed and started walking nervously. I knew that we had to go to the second floor cafeteria to get to the bathrooms, and I knew that the only path to take went right through the model beds.
As a result, I was walking about five feet ahead of her, waving my flashlight all over, occasionally calling out. Then I heard a wild gasp, and a lot of shuffling of sheets. I held my hand up to Ness, who stood very still and covered her ears.
Then I saw the glowing ahead. I walked carefully forward, stepping as loudly as I could. "Hello? Who… Who is it?" I asked stupidly.
"Alice and Jasper." A chirpy bird voice replied, sounding slightly ragged.
"Are you guys decent? Cos Ness has to go to the bathrooms…?" I asked quietly. I approached the glow.
I now realized that they were on a bed with a plaid homey-patchwork-Cracker-Barrel-esque quilt covered them. The glow was from several red lanterns scattered around that held lit candles. Jasper was hiding his face under the covers, but Alice was upright, with the comforter pulled up over her. I so wanted to look away, so I motioned Renesmee forward. She came to stand next to me.
"So, um, have you been having fun, honey?" Alice asked Renesmee.
"Um, yeah…" She shifted her wait from foot to foot awkwardly, "I had a nightmare but I'm fine now."
"Oh, honey! Come give Aunt Alice a hug, it's alright," Alice was stupid enough to hold her arms out to Renesmee, allowing the quilt to fall, revealing a lacy black satin bustier.
I slapped my hands over my eyes. She made a few 'oh!' and 'Sorry!' sounds, but I didn't really wait around. I made a temporary blinder for myself out of my right hand, and the used my left hand to grab Nessie and drag her as far from here as possilble.
We were walking down the corridor to the cafeteria, when I noticed something odd. As we walked, her left hand would brush against my right each time she swung her arm. It felt nice, like a feather dragged across your skin, but without the tickley part. But it got weirder, because she seemed to be brushing harder, more insitently now. I looked down at her, and she looked up at me.
"That's nice. The hand-brushing thing, it feels nice." I told her, trying to understand why she did it. She frowned, like this wasn't the answer she wanted. "What made you think of doing that?" I asked her.
She blushed. "I… I was… talking to a friend of mine..." It was generally pretty easy to tell when she lied; she used the same lines. This one usually meant that she had either looked something up online, or had heard this through eavesdropping. "That, if you brush your hand against the back of… a guy's hand, it tells him that you want to hold hands." She was blushing really deeply now, and we'd come to a complete standstill. She was staring down at her hands, which were twiddling their thumbs.
This must be some sign or something! She must want… something. I couldn't quite figure out, so I did what I usually did in situations where I had absolutely no idea what to do: I made a joke.
"Well, Ness! Ya gotta tell me these things! I'm no good at subtle. If you want something, I'll get it for ya, but ya gotta tell me!" My voice always got so stupid sounding when I was nervous like this. I reached out and grabbed her hand, which seemed to satisfy her.
We parted ways at the bathrooms of course, and she brushed the back of my hand as we met each other halfway, so I was proactive and just grabbed her hand. I could swear I heard a sigh low in her chest.
"Your hands are all cold!" I laughed, knowing she had washed with cold water.
"Yours are, too! Kinda funny that we're both really hot and both really like washing our hands with cold water!" She mumbled, weirdly nervous.
"Yeah," I muttered back, still trying to figure her out. This time we just jumped from the second floor down to the first, to avoid any more run-ins with Alice and Jasper. We ran back to the bed, jumping in, just for fun.
We lay back again, but now she wrapped her left arm across my stomach. She wormed her pinky finger under my tee shirt to show me some things. Mostly just me, me at her first birthday party, wearing a tiara, me picking her up from school, me staying home with her while her parents were away. She lingered there for a second, and then the humor in her thoughts increased as she replayed a scene from just a few days ago, it looked like.
Her sitting on the couch, hanging out with some friends from her class. I saw myself walk in, delivering lemonade to her and the other two girls and then walking back to the kitchen.
I saw Renesmee take a sip, and then her friends all took sips, too. One of them, a girl with brown hair done in braids, carefully peeked past the couch to the kitchen, where I was making nachos for them.
Then she leaned in and whispered to Renesmee, "What's your cute babysitter's number, I want him to babysit me, not the old lady down the street!"
The other friend, a blond, chimed in now; "Has he ever taken you swimming?"
The whole scene nodded, all seen from Ness' point of view.
The blonde and the brunette leaned in to ask whisper to Renesmee, "Well, does he have nice abs?"
They all giggled for a minute, and then the visions faded out. I carefully craned my head to seem if Renesmee was still awake, and she turned her face toward mine at the same time.
I raised an eyebrow at her. "I'm your 'cute babysitter'?"
She nodded, blushing again. She used her pinky finger that was under my shirt to hook the fabric out of the way. She peered under.
After a moment of looking under my shirt, she nodded at my torso. "Yes, I shall tell him," She told my stomach. She turned back towards me, a goofy smile on her face. "They are nice abs. Very polite. They said that you should feed them more vegetables, though."
I chuckled. "I'll try to remember that."
She looked like she was about to relax against my chest again, but then seemed to change her mind.
She carefully scooted herself upward, and then gently pressed her lips to my chin. An electrical current ran through my body, and I had to start chanting eleven year old, eleven year old, eleven year old, in my head. When that wasn't working so great, and I still wanted to kiss her on the lips, I changed it to Four year old, four year old, four year old… , which seemed to be more effective, because I just kissed her forehead and lay back in our little self-made bed.
My dream was really, really weird. Because I was obviously seeing a bird's eye view of me and an older Renesmee… but it still felt like I was seeing it from her perspective. I realized a moment late that I was seeing her dream.. through her palm, which was laying flat on my stomach.
I sat back and relaxed, mentally, to watch the show.
We were walking down the streets of some fashionable city, probably paris or somewhere. Suddenly, as we passed an alley, I felt my wind knocked out of me as Renesmee was whipped around the corner, into the alley, and pressed against the wall by my body. Then the kissing started.
My breathing starting get fast and shallow, because in the dream, it wasn't really a peck on the cheek (or the chin, for that matter). We held together for as long as we could, and it felt so real, the warmth, her really in my arms, I started having really weird thoughts. Like, would Edward get mad if he found out we were doing this? It's not really kissing, right? So, he can't… I won't tell him if Nessie wants to do this again. Because, for me… An older Renesmee, even a dream one, seemed to solve all my problems.
Our lips were so perfect together, I knew that we were always made for each other. She seemed to know, too, and her ecstasy was obvious in the dream.
And then the whole scene flipped, and Renesmee was in front of me, and I could feel my back against the wall, and it was amazing. Even though my eyes were closed, I could see everything, the snow capped mountains behind us, and weirdly, I could see things from Ness' point of view, too.
And then, just as suddenly, it ended. I awoke suddenly, and glanced down. Renesmee suddenly seemed tiny and young now, compared to the clearly more mature and audacious girl in the dream.
"Ness?" I asked quietly. It was still really dark, but we were far from any windows, so I was pretty sure it was morning.
"Mm?" She asked.
"I… saw that. You.. Were showing me… accidently." I pointed out her palm on my stomach to her now-wide-awake eyes.
She turned her head slowly toward me, her expression a mixture of horror, surprise, and maybe a bit of pure joy.
"You… saw… that?" She choked out. "Oh, no…" She used both her hands to cover her face in horror.
I laughed gently. I was unsure of what to do, but this is what seemed natural right now, so I went with it.
Her head whipped up to look at me again, her expression now a mixture of fear, shock, and half-hope.
"It's ok." I told her, because it was. I didn't care. She had no control over her dreams, and if her father tried to control what she dreamed about… He couldn't. So, it didn't matter.
She blushed again. "How much did you see?" She asked timidly.
"Aaaaalll of it," I laughed, which only brought more delicious blush to her cheeks.
She looked down at her hands, which were toying with a loose thread on my shirt. "Well?" She asked.
She looked up at me, her expression kind of teasing but kind of serious. "Well, did you like it?"
My whole go-with-the-flow natural-answer thing went right out the window. How do you answer your four-year-old imprint who looks like an eleven-year-old when she asks you if you liked the fantasy about you that she accidently shared with you? Better yet, how did you answer it without her father, a blood enemy, tearing your head off? I supposed that when in doubt, honesty is the best policy.
"I.. liked it…" I trailed off, and then decided to be really honest. I showed her the huge, thrilled grin that was now plastered on my face, "I liked it a lot."
She put her hand back to my abs. So, Honeymoon in Paris, then? She asked me, pausing and zooming in on the part of the dream where we're walking side by side. She's showing off the silver rings on our fingers.
I blinked. I think I may have just accidently proposed to a four-year-old.