Overall, the only one in the family that Rosalie had an actively contentious relationship with had been Edward. Sometimes the fact that Jasper could feel all of their feelings was a little creepy, and Alice could be a little annoying, but for the most part, she was her sister. And much like a sister, Rosalie had spent the last twenty-four hours in the woods, angry and trying to stop the words she had said from swimming around and around in her head.
Alice and Jasper! They were like a curse. They both were far too able to get into her head.
She didn’t want to admit that her words had bothered her as deeply as they had, but it was the truth. She had thought about them as she had taken down a cougar. She had thought of them as she cleaned up in a semi-frozen river. Once clean, she had sat by the little river, watching the sluggish water move in the center, listening to a light snowfall all around her, letting it cover her as she thought.
She didn’t think she didn’t deserve Bella. She just...
She had mated with a woman who was dating her brother. She wasn’t going to take Bella’s life. She was doing her best to give her space since she had gone all crazy vampire on James and ripped him apart with her bare teeth. She might have been a horrible person once, and perhaps many people would say she still was a horrible person, but she didn’t think that she didn’t deserve her... exactly.
She hadn’t meant to stay out for a full twenty-four hours and she hadn’t meant to do it so recklessly. She was usually an efficient and clean hunter, but this trip she had picked more than one fight before going in for the kill. That was usually more Emmett’s style. He liked to win his food. Her clothing was ripped as she stepped back into the Cullen house, her hair tangled. She smelled strongly of wild game, perhaps from the wrestling, and of dirt and mud.
The house was silent as she walked in, her ripped coat in her hand, her eyebrows high. It was too silent. There was no talk between couples, no TV, or music, or video games, but she could feel that they were all there. It was eerie. She crossed to the living room, her senses on red alert.
Esme sat on the couch, her face drawn, Alice beside her, and Emmett leaning against the far wall, scratching thoughtfully at his chin.
She looked between them, waiting to be told the bad news. “What happened?” she demanded. Then it occurred to her. Nothing could happen to them. So — “Bella? Did something happen to—”
“Nah, babe.” Emmett shook his head. “She’s okay.”
“Are you sure?”
He nodded, the stress not leaving his face.
She waited, but no one offered an explanation. “So?”
“Edward has left.”
“What?” Rosalie bit at Esme, shifting a little and making the mud on her feet squelch between her toes. She wasn’t at all one for being bare feet out in the woods. That was dirty. She had never been able to stand the people in Northern California who had walked around the streets with nothing on their feet during the 1960s. Somewhere during the night, she had lost her Jordaan Loafers when chasing after a Lynx. A fact that was horrible as they were Gucci, but going back she hadn’t been able to find them under the rapidly growing denser snow. She glanced down, a little guilty.
“Edward’s gone back to Alaska.”
“You’re kidding me,” she snorted. “For how long this time?”
Esme’s shoulders rose and fell, dabbing at her eyes as if she had been crying. “Indefinitely. I don’t think he’s coming back.”
All right, perhaps she wasn’t a better person than she had been. Hearing that she glanced between all of them, her spirits rising.
Alice looked up at her expectantly, waiting for some sign of upset to match the rest of the family but she couldn’t even fake it. Of course, he had taken off, the giant man-child.
“What about Bella?”
Emmett glanced at her, a look on his face that she didn’t see often. He looked nervous.
“What about Bella?”
He shook his head. “She came by last night looking for him. I don’t think he told her.”
She stared. He hadn’t told her that he had left?!
“Don’t worry, I told her.” Emmett sighed, grating his fingers over his face and across his scalp.
She tried hard not to feel hopeful. Had Edward just taken a step back? Had he taken himself out of the race? She wasn’t sure there was a race, but if there was, had he forfeit?
“Rosalie Hale, you are dripping mud all over my clean floors.”
Rosalie jumped, swallowing thickly. “Sorry, let me shower and... err, then I’ll… clean… that up.” Her words began to slow as she stared at Esme, confused by the warm half-smile on her face. It was the kind of smile that she gave Edward when he got up to some type of shenanigan, and not one that Rosalie was ever on the receiving end of.
Frowning slightly, she disappeared up the stairs, droplets of muddy water falling as she went and making her swear.
It pissed her off that Edward kept hurting Esme like that. No matter what Esme claimed, it was clear that one of her children taking off for an extended time did hurt her. He had left so many times over this year, each time breaking her heart.
She used to think that at the bottom of everything, Edward loved his family, Esme especially. Why was he okay with causing her pain?
She huffed, flipping the water to straight hot and stepping in. Then again, this was the guy who had just left the girl he had been dating without a word.
She shook out her head, pulling a few leaves and twigs from her hair. Ugh, she reeked.
She had been seeing Edward in a whole new light as of late. Was it that he had always been this way or was it that meeting Bella had changed him?
Showered and mud cleaned up, Rosalie found herself a little restless that night. Her family’s eyes followed her as she floated through the house, somewhat bored. She could feel that they had questions, but they were probably the same questions that she had. What did this mean? Would Bella want her now? Would she make a move? Should she make a move?
Rosalie didn’t have the answer to any of them.
How was she supposed to know? She hadn’t even seen Bella. She hadn’t spoken to her. She hadn’t been in her life.
The thought forced her up off of her bed where she had been sitting, to slowly pace around the room.
If she could just see her.
But she couldn’t... right?
She sat down at her computer for a while, reading through medical journals. It had been a while, and there were plenty of them to keep up with. After a few articles and some light notes on what she wanted to discuss with Carlisle, she put a CD in the player and settled onto her bed. She looked up at the ceiling, comfortable on the soft mattress, and listened. This was something she liked to do. She enjoyed getting lost in the twist of voices, in the way the instruments blended like a painting. Tonight, however, her thoughts just drifted away, back to the place they seemed to live.
But how did she know that she couldn’t see her? Her mind kept asking the question over and over. She had just assumed, but Bella had never said. What if Bella was waiting for her to show up? What if Bella felt like she had disappeared?
When she still hadn’t settled in three songs later, she rose and went to the small room off of her bedroom with her movie collection. Her fingers traced the cases, ticking through and trying to find something, but the thought of sitting alone in the dark didn’t sound appealing either.
Would she ever have a chance to get Bella into this room? This was her special space, specifically hers. It was the only space like it. Even the car bay could be used by the others and was sometimes used when Jasper worked on bikes.
Her fingers traced a movie she had always loved, and she let out a small laugh. Fried Green Tomatoes was a more recent movie, one that Rosalie loved to cry though. Emmett had never understood her love for it. She had always been taken with the relationship of the main characters, amazed by and envious of their friendship. She hadn’t been sure what to think when Edward had given her the book, a teasing twinkle in her eye, and she had discovered that the main characters weren’t friends at all, but lovers. In fact, her eyes drifted over the shelves to several other titles. She had always had a secret passion for movies about women who loved other women, finding the stories to be specifically beautiful. Now she supposed she knew why.
That thought on her mind, she headed down the stairs to find Emmett and share in her amusing realization.
“No, bullshit, that’s not a checkmate!” Emmett cried as Jasper took one of his pieces.
“It is. Look up the rules.”
“Bullshit,” Emmett grumbled, his face set, already back into the game.
She settled lightly on the arm of his chair and Emmett wrapped an arm around her waist out of habit. His hand went out to move a rook and she made a noise.
“Don’t move it there, he’ll get you in three moves.”
“Oh, uh, thanks, babe.”
“No, not that one either.”
“Yeah, that – eeep!” Rosalie let out a cry when Emmett got up and carried her from the room. “Wait, wait, wait, I realized this really funny thing!”
Emmet put her down gently, kissed her forehead and then turned around to continue his game.
She smirked, taking the not at all subtle hint and headed out to the car bay. She hadn’t worked on the car since before Bella’s accident.
However, the moment she got out there she realized she didn’t want to get dirty again.
Nothing sounded amusing. She didn’t want to do anything, and she knew exactly why. It was because there was one specific thing she wanted to do. She wanted to see Bella. She wanted to see her badly, so much she couldn’t think straight. She felt raw, on edge.
She sighed and headed inside. In the library, she picked up a book and curled up in her chair.
She just wanted to see her. She was sure she was okay, tell her that no one was coming after her anymore. She had spent the entire hunting trip trying to ignore the nonstop drive to head over to the Swan house. She couldn’t even tell herself that it was alright because she would see Bella the next day when school began again. She doubted very highly that Bella, bruised and broken as she was, would be in school.
Her mind drifted as she stared at nothing. She wanted to do something for her. She wanted to be near her. How long did she need to give her space? Did she need to give her space at all? Would she ever know if she didn’t first talk to her about it?
She stood, an idea forming.
It might be weeks before she saw Bella again if she waited for her to be well enough for school. She couldn’t handle weeks, she knew she couldn’t. Bella was hurt. Humans liked comforting things when they were hurt, she remembered that well enough.
At a casual pace, she turned into the kitchen, grabbing one of the cookbooks set out decoratively to fool any possible human that might enter the Cullen house. It was pointless, Rosalie had always thought. Just as their kitchen was stocked full of cookware, silverware, and cutlery, it was all an act to prove their humanity that no one would ever see.
“What are you up to?”
She smiled a little as she looked up to see Esme in the doorway.
“Let me guess. Thinking of doing something for Bella?”
She chewed her lip. “I don’t know if she wants to see me.”
“I’m sure she does.”
Rosalie looked at Esme’s face, so sure in her declaration and felt her spirit bolstered. “Do you think so?”
“I do. Are you thinking about cooking her something?”
Nose wrinkled in distaste, she looked back down at the cookbook, flipping to the back to search for what she wanted. “I was thinking about soup.”
Esme beamed. “I think that would be very nice.”
Rose nodded a little, scanning through what she would need.
“I’m proud of you for wanting to take care of her.”
Rosalie looked up, surprised. “You are?”
“I am. She’s going to be a very lucky girl.” With a quick kiss to the cheek, Esme turned, leaving Rose to the cookbook.
Feeling inexorably warm inside, Rose grabbed her keys and, cookbook under her arm, she started out.
The grocery store was a mess of horror.
Rosalie didn’t understand how humans braved places like that daily. It had been disgusting, and crowded.
She had entered unsure of herself, not having gone shopping for food in more years than she could remember. How did humans buy their food there? It had been disgusting. It smelled of long-dead meat and looking at some of the things sold made her understand why humans were generally so unhealthy. Nothing was fresh. She had very seriously considered turning away instead of buying food she would cook for Bella there. She bought everything organic, doing her best to smell the meat for the freshest one there. It had been revolting.
To top it off, it was as though everyone in the store had known her. She had barely been able to figure out what foods she needed for all of the surprised ‘Oh, Ms. Hale, how is your father’’s.
She had been very pleased to leave when she had, bags in hand.
With a grunt that was more for show than real, Rosalie tossed the bags onto the counter, the book still in hand.
This couldn’t be that hard. Idiots all over the world were able to cook for themselves, she could definitely do this.
She opened the book to the recipe, using a finger to scan it. “Warm one teaspoon of oil over medium heat in soup pot until simmering. Add the onion, celery, and carrots with a pinch of salt.” She read the recipe as if it were in some exotic language unavailable to her.
The vegetables were just beginning to simmer when Jasper and Emmett appeared in the doorway, their noses wrinkled against the smell.
She couldn’t blame them. Food was cooked in that room on occasion since Bella entered their life but often it was followed by the windows being thrown open to clear out the smell. It had been a wonder to Rose before seeing Bella’s obvious pleasure at a smell which was too rich, too thick, to wrong. It hadn’t smelled at all like something one could consume and yet each time Bella had done so with relish.
“Um, what exactly are you doing, Rose?” Emmett asked, watching with distaste as she began to cut the raw chicken into cubes like the directions stated. “You know that stuff can kill someone, right? I don’t think you’re gonna be able to get Edward to eat it. He’ll notice something is up.”
“Ha, ha.” She grumbled back, though her grumble had a lot less bite than it usually would as she concentrated on forcing herself to touch the raw animal. Suddenly she understood the vegetarian lifestyle so much more. The vegetables, though unappealing, we’re far more appealing than this. “I’m cooking soup for Bella.” She dropped the chicken into the pot, shuddering as it began to sizzle. She turned and beamed up at him.
“Wait, you’re what?” He laughed, clearly not believing her.
“Esme said she was proud of me.”
Emmett’s eyebrows rose. “Wow. Err, she said that because of the um... soup?”
“Humans like soup when they’re hurt. I’m making her soup.” She let the other words drop before she said them, ‘so I have a nonthreatening excuse to go see her.’
Though she wasn’t looking directly at him, she saw his expression change from the corner of her eye. His amused grin slipped lopsided and then fell from his face, his eyes darting to the pot as the chicken cooked and back to her. “… For Bella?”
“Yup.” Despite her disgust, she stirred with secret relish, following the directions on exactly how long to allow the meat to cook. She had never done something for Bella before. She had never even admitted that she wanted to do something for Bella. This might come with an ulterior motive, an excuse for a visit, but hopefully if she got there early enough, it would save Bella from hobbling around the kitchen in search of food while Charlie worked, or even while he was watching the game out of town, a hobby Rose had noticed left Bella alone far more than was appropriate. She might be able to help make Bella’s night a little easier.
Caring for Bella. She sighed. God admitting she had wants felt so much better than shoving them down and choking on them.
“Uh, babe.” Emmett’s voice was soft as he reached for the spoon, trying to take it from her hand.
She held on, her lips pressed into a thin line.
She didn’t like the softness of his voice. That voice was rarely followed by something like ‘I’m proud of you too’.
“Babe.” He tried to pull the spoon out of her hand again. She held tight, refusing to look at him, and only managed to snap the wooden spoon in two.
“Babe. Don’t you think maybe you should give her some space right now?”
She rolled her eyes. “It’s just soup, Emm.”
“Stinky soup.” He grumbled.
She laughed, dropping a bay leaf into the pot with a happy flourish and filling it with broth.
It was just soup. After all, they had become friends, or at least they had according to Bella, and she couldn’t take that back now.
“She’s hurt.” She said briskly, turning away to chop some more carrots. “This will help.” She pushed him out of the way with gently gruff hands. Emmett let himself be pushed, glancing at Jasper in the doorway, his look not one that Rosalie wanted to see just then. “Oh my god, guys, it’s just soup, not a marriage proposal.”
He didn’t respond, instead, he and Jasper moved to the kitchen island, both leaning against it and watching her.
“Did I start my own cooking show?” She snapped at them, some of her usual bitchiness popping to the surface. “What the hell is so interesting?”
“Other than you cooking, you mean?” Emmett quipped.
“We’re just curious how you’re going to make this, is all,” Jasper answered in his maddeningly smooth voice.
She glared. “Well, watch me then.”
Thirty minutes later, she took the lid off the pot, doing her very best to take in the smell the way that Bella would. She stirred and took a sip from the spoon.
It didn’t taste good. Not in the slightest. She retched a little and dropped the spoon into the sink with a clatter. “God damn it!” she cried, honestly frustrated. “How am I supposed to tell if it’s good or not?” She grabbed another spoon, seething and brought a spoonful to Emmett, who immediately backed into the island, scrambling to get away.
“No, I’m good, I’m—”
“Try it!” she growled.
He looked at her face for a long moment, his eyes begging her not to make him.
Her eyes narrowed and he grudgingly leaned forward and sipped from the spoon. “GUGH! AGH!” He wiped at his mouth. “It tastes terrible!”
“But does it taste terrible because we’re vampires?”
“I don’t know, Rose!” Emmett cried back.
She spooned another spoonful and turned but Jasper was gone.
“He’s not here,” Alice’s voice called from the other room after a second, making Emmett cackle.
“Ugh, it’s in my mouth now,” Emmett complained, smacking his lips. “Ugh. Ugh. I need to brush my teeth.”
She looked down at it, frustrated. She had no idea. Did she take a soup to her mate if she didn’t know it was good? What if Bella thought that she was a horrible cook forever after that? Where could she get a human to try it first? She was contemplating that when Emmett came back into the room, his face still unhappy. “Emm, hand me that tureen, please.”
He stopped, looking at her strangely. “The fuck is a tureen?”
“The large oval looking thing over there,” she waved her hand impatiently.
There was a clinking of glassware and the tureen appeared before her.
“Do you think there’s a way I can have a human try this before I go over? Just in case it’s bad.”
“Huh? Uh, I don’t know. Do you know where that Mike kid lives? He bugs the shit out of me. That way if it’s poison, you kill two birds with one stone.”
She smirked and began to pour.
The pot came down on the stove with a clatter, her glare harsh. It was just soup. She was allowed to bring Bella soup. People liked soup.
“Okay.” He sighed, taking a step away.
He groaned. “He’s the kid who works at the outdoor store. He’s always trying to one-up me like somehow he knows more about hiking and hunting than I do and I just have to pretend this puny dude is right when he’s like almost always wrong.”
“Short man’s disease?”
He snorted. “Little Dick Syndrome.”
That made her laugh. “Okay, I’m off.” She leaned over, her hand on his chest and gave him a quick kiss.
He just nodded, his look wary.