Secondhand Rose

Cullen. It’s a strong name, a good name, and as much as Carlisle can sometimes be snooty and upper crust, Cullen is a working-class Irish name, and he can’t escape that, I figure. It’s why I never minded being a Cullen. You’d think after all these years and with his father being a mass murderer and all that he’d get rid of the name, but he doesn’t. It sticks to him. There’s something about that name that traps him even after hundreds of years, keeps him working just as hard as he did when he used to take care of his old man’s church. Cullen is the name of a guy who had to earn an honest day’s living, even if he drives a fancy car now. And I like it, but sometimes I’d rather be a Hale.

It’s a convenience thing, I know, and I get it. Jasper is blond and Rosalie is, too, and so he’s got her name even though he doesn’t want it. Or really, in Jasper’s case, it’s less that he doesn’t want it than that he doesn’t care. You could call him Jingleheimerschmit or whatever that guy’s name was and that would be fine with Jasper as long as he got to be with Alice. So Jasper Hale ain’t nothing to him at all.

Being Emmett Hale would be a whole nother thing. It would mean sharing Rose’s human self. And Rose doesn’t share that, even with me.

Carlisle says that being changed is the thing people remember most about their human life. If he were right about that, it’d be a goddamn blessing. Sometimes I’m talking about something, maybe about school, or Edward’s sanctimonious ass, and I look up and she’s far away. I pretend, then, that she’s thinking about something else. A V-8 engine. Babies. Something that makes her happy.

But those are different looks, and after a long while, you get to know a body’s looks. And that one, the one that happens sometimes when I’m talking about nothing, where her eyes go glassy and she looks off into the distance like she’s waiting for someone… I see that look and I know. She gets that look and she’s not sitting in the living room any more listening to me. She’s back in that dark street, her eyes on the guy she figured she’d learn to love, watching him approach her, knowing what’s coming next. And her look tells me it’s nothing compared to the burning. Rose can deal with the burning. If the burning were her strongest human memory, she’d put it behind her just like the rest of us. Better than the rest of us, even.

The first time I found out why Carlisle turned Rose, it took Edward and Esme both to keep me from breaking the guy’s face. Edward blinds him; we all know that. He’s a good man, and Edward is too, but both of them get their hearts and their heads mixed up sometimes. If Carlisle makes a stupid decision, you can bet dollars to doughnuts that Edward had something to do with it. Now, he was right that they were alike, I’ll give him that much, although Carlisle didn’t know then how much Rose and Eddie would have in common. You ask either of them their opinion on something and they give it straight—even if it means telling you you’re a dumb fuck for asking. They’re both stubborn as hell, too. When it comes to it, Edward carries his demons, just like Rose does. He’s got a record like Jasper’s, worse really because he knew there was another way when he did what he did. He thinks he doesn’t deserve to be here, and I guess that’s one more thing him and Rose have in common. But sometimes when he’s off in a snit because the world ain’t going the way he wants it, I want to pick him up by his shirt and remind him to his face that he’s why Rose is here.

She’s careful because of him, which I get but I don’t. She won’t think about it or talk about it if he’s anywhere near because of his gift. Edward knows more than I do because of what he can hear, and it makes me want to rail on him, even though I know he can’t help it. Jealousy, I guess, which doesn’t wear well on me. But even though it’s annoying, sometimes I think Rose should sit and show it all to him. Make him carry it, too, since she won’t let me. I said that to her once, when we were in bed and she was lying on top of me. Edward had smirked at us when we were heading off, and I told him to go jack himself off somewhere. He hauled off and tried to sock me, which was funny because even though he’s a vampire, Edward hits like a girl. Never had to slug anybody as a human, I don’t think, and he never really learned how to do it.

Anyways, I about broke his arm, and he sulked off. After, I asked Rose why she didn’t ever use her memories against him. And she just smiled the way she does when I’ve said something she thinks is stupid, and tucked a bit of my hair behind my ear.

“He’s just a boy,” was all she said.

Now, Edward is only eight months younger than Rose is in body, and he’s thirteen years older than her for real, but I get what she means. He’s sort of… simple, I guess. Yeah, he’s more of a thinker than I am, that’s fine. Him and Carlisle, they’ll go on about philosophy and art in these arguments that I think would be best solved on the football field. But when it comes to the way the real world works, he doesn’t see the same shades of gray. Just right and wrong, black and white. His world divides real neatly, and ours just doesn’t.

Which is funny because everybody else thinks I’m the simple one.

Rose and me, our life is complicated that way. I thought she was an angel come to deliver me, especially seeing how she was so goddamned beautiful. I was mostly dead by then, or all dead, I don’t know. But she picked me up, and I flew away, it felt like, and when I woke up next to Carlisle and saw her sitting there in the corner looking like the wrath of God was about to come in on her, I just said, “Thank you, Jesus” that my angel was still there. She didn’t believe me at first that I was okay with what she’d done. It took me a long time to convince her, and some nights I can look in her eyes and see she’s still not sure.

We had been romantic for something like a year when one night Rose looked down at where we were together and she just got up, like that. She does that sometimes—gets distracted, or remembers something, and she can’t keep going. The first time it happened, I thought I’d done something wrong, but it’s never that. Sometimes she just decides it’s not the right time. I mean, don’t get me wrong. Rose is amazing and we can do it with the best of them, but when she’s not in it anymore, I know it right off, and we stop. By then I’d learned just to watch her in the dark while she walked over to the window and looked up at the moon for a while.

In the moonlight, her skin glowed blue-white, and she looked every bit like the angel I thought she was that first day. Rose looks perfect naked, something I tell her more often than I think she wants to hear it. And I said that to her that night, and she turned her back to me so that all I saw was just smooth curves. I thought I’d made her mad, because she gets mad like that—no reason it seems, just stops whatever she’s doing and walks away. But she turned back from the window a second later and came over to the bed and put her whole body on top of mine again so that our nipples touched. I thought we were gonna kiss, but she didn’t kiss my lips. She went for my forehead instead.

“You looked like Vera’s Henry.”

Now, one of the problems with a vampire brain is sometimes you got to root around a little to find the piece of information you’re looking for, like you’re in a messy cellar or something. That’s why when you ask Carlisle a question, he thinks almost as long as a human does before he comes back with some boring-ass lecture complete with three centuries’ history on whatever thing you asked him. Right then, my brain was busy absorbing everything it could about Rose—her scent, her breasts touching my chest, the way her collarbone poked upward into the pads of my fingers right where it became her neck. So it took me a second to really nail down what the hell she was referring to.

At last I remembered about Rose’s friend Vera and her baby. Rose didn’t talk about them much, but she’d brung them up once or twice. Really, I remembered less about Vera than the look Rose got when she talked about Vera’s baby. When she said his name, her face went all peaceful, like the world and the life she hated so much was all solved just by saying his name.

I think she thought when she said that I would be mad or something. Like she compared me to the baby, and that was why she turned me, and so I would be mad about it just like she was. But when she said “Henry” even the little lines by her jaw went soft, and I figured, anything that made my Rose that peaceful was a good thing to be like.

That was about the most explanation I ever got. “You reminded me of Henry” is Rose’s way of saying she’s sorry, even though it’s a cold day in Hell that I don’t like being who I am. I get to spend eternity walking Earth with my angel, and that’s good enough for me. But nights like that one—nights when we stop, when Rose gets up and walks away—those are nights I know I’m going to be working forever to never have it be good enough for her.

Like I said, we’re complicated.

And then there’s the beauty thing. I think Rose is the most beautiful thing on Earth—and we’ve near seen all of it now, so I can say that for certain. Nothing else compares. But for her, it’s a curse more than a blessing. She looks in the mirror and remembers what her beauty nearly bought her, and what it ended up costing. Every now and then, maybe once a year, I come home from somewhere and the mirrors in our bedroom are all busted. The first time I fixed them all right away, but now I know better. They stay broke for a while, sometimes a day, sometimes a week or two, and then one day she’ll just up and ask me why there aren’t any mirrors. Like I did something to them.

But it’s no matter. I go, and I get some more, and maybe a year’ll go by before they get broken again. And I’ll just put them back up, whenever she’s ready. That’s just the way we are. I wait, she tells me when, and then we both act like nothing happened.

Other people don’t get that. Even our family doesn’t get that, most of the time. “Rose has a temper,” Esme will say, or Jasper will try to cool her down, or Edward will sit at the piano and smirk like just because he can read Rose’s mind he knows her or something. He said as much to Isabella, the first time she came over, and of course Rose overheard him. She damn near strangled him when his girlfriend went home. He thinks Rose is jealous because Bella has him, but he ought to know better. Jealous is something humans feel, when they want something someone else has. Rose doesn’t want what Bella has; Rose wants what Rose had back. She wants the hope that she’ll have a little baby like Vera’s; she wants the possibilities. She wants a future, and the problem with futures is, they aren’t static. She loves me, but I don’t change.

So I get Bella. I know exactly where she’s coming from. Because when she looks at Edward, she gets the same look I bet I get when I look at Rose. Edward doesn’t see it, and I don’t think Rose does either. They both think Bella wants to trade humanity for speed, for beauty, to get rid of her god-awful two left feet that keep getting her in trouble, hilairious as it is. But that ain’t it, as far as I can tell. It’s not about being something better than human. She gets that look on her face because she knows what she wants, and that’s to spend forever with Edward.

And that I understand. Because the beauty of me and Rose is that it’s a forever type of thing. Not just because we’re gonna live forever, but because we are forever. Bella wants to be with Edward like that, and like Rose, Edward doesn’t get it. He thinks he’s going to hurt Bella if he turns her, just like I know Rose thinks she hurt me. What Rose and Edward don’t get is that sometimes a person wants to love a broken person. But when you love a broken person, you don’t get to choose when they’re ready for you.

Eddie and Rose have that in common, and I think sometimes about telling that to Bella. Making sure she understands that she’s going to wait forever for him, even though it will be the best waiting she ever does. He’ll always open up to his piano more than he will to her, just like Rose opens up to her cars. She’ll turn pages just like I hand wrenches, but we’ll both be on the outside, looking in.

Some days Rose hates herself for what she did in having me turned. Maybe most days, even, I’m not sure. But what she doesn’t realize is that I’m the one who got a gift. I get to spend eternity with my angel, a car-fixing, baby-loving, mirror-busting angel.

And so I just walk with her, and listen, and wait. Always on the outside, but still beside her, fixing mirrors, looking like Henry, making eternal life livable, little bit by little bit. Taking as much of her burden as she’ll give me, but knowing she’ll never give it all.

I love my Rose. I like who I am. It’s good to be Emmett Cullen.

But it’d be amazing to be Emmett Hale.

§ 5 Responses to Secondhand Rose"

  • twitina says:

    You’ve discovered the real Emmett. I think you nailed him perfectly. He loves Rose. He sees her as she is and it doesn’t stop him from adoring her. He also sees Edward. Emmett is insightful and pure.

    I really love that he is a glass half-full kind of guy. His immortality lends him the gift of a forever love with Rose – and it’s that simple to him.

    Beautiful!!

    • giselle says:

      Yay! Thank you. :) And I’m especially glad you liked the read on Edward. I don’t think Emmett completely understands Edward, but it’s always fun to see E through another set of eyes.

  • Kayla Griffith says:

    I have to agree With Twitina in every respect. This is such a wonderful look at their complex relationship. Emmett isn’t simple, he simply chooses to BE. I love that you caught that so perfectly.

    • giselle says:

      I love the way you put that. “He just chooses to be.” It’s very straightforward, very true, and very Emmett. I’m glad you enjoyed it! Thank you.

  • RobinVanDam says:

    I feel like a fish, taking the bait, feeling you reel me in with each story I read. I have someone like Emmet in my life, so for you to portray him in this way almost seems overtly logical.

    The Cullens may think him as just a “fun-loving-guy” and not serious and accepting situations as dire as they think the situation is, but he wasn’t totally portaryed that way in the underbelly of the “Twilight Saga” if you really read into the stories that Stephanie Meyers wrote. Obviously you did see it, when James came after Bella. His attempt to reassure her and calm her. I didn’t take that lightly. It takes a sensitive and serious man to do that because he didn’t only do it for Bella, he did it for all of them, knowing how deeply Edward and Alice and the rest of them felt about her even though they just recently met. He just “masked” his thoughts so they wouldn’t see it for what it was, because he also knew that to react as they were was stressful enough…he didn’t want to add to the stress, instead, lighten it. The same when he was hunting with Edward in “Midnight Sun” when he asked Edward about his ability to physically love Bella. On the surface of his thoughts it didn’t go deep to the core, but it was very deep behind those thoughts Edward heard. Trying to understand Edwards delima that EDWARD created, knowing it wasn’t really a delima that should have existed. He tried to hint to Edward that Edward was a lunatic for creating the delima. Giving Edward the respect he felt Edward deserved no matter how crazy he was.

    Emmet’s willingness to “step-up” in the face of opposition appeared on the surface to be a need to “rise to the challenge” but it wasn’t it was his need to protect his family. Time and time again.

    His understanding of Bella and seeing the parallel of their lives is believable because how could he not, knowing she was human and seeing (and recognizing) the depth of her love for Edward. Emmet is a “watcher” not the “boisterous doer” he tries to protray himself to be. If he let that facade show, he would become to vulnerable himself to the pains he would suffer under Rose’s guilt and pain she suffers because she would never willingly and knowingly give that burden to him. His understanding of Edward and comparisson of him to Rose, as acurate as it may be can not be a total understanding of Edward because he himself is not Edward. Sometimes we don’t even know ourselves as well as we should so how can we possibly know and understand someone else better than we do ourselves. It’s complicated enough to understand yourself without thinking you could possibly understand someone else totally.

    So he waits, watching, knowing without influence and interferrence because he knows that’s all he CAN do. For himself, Rose, Edward, Bella and all the rest of them. It doesn’t mean he likes it. But he’s willing to face the consequences, because they are serious consequences.

    You are very wise to portay him this way. It suits him.

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