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Afterglow

Summary:
The in canon tale of the daughter Rose never thought she could have. When my mother found me, fate seemed to link us together. Not only was I the daughter she never dreamed she'd have, I was unusually unappetizing for a human. However, being raised by vampires does not come without conflict. This is my tale about growing up Cullen and finding love in the most unexpected place. The world's largest coven is about to get a whole lot larger!


Notes:
Sorrowfully, I do not own the Twilight saga or any of its characters. They belong to the glorious Stephenie Meyer. But Emmalie is MINE, as is the plot. :)


6. Spilled Soy and Bad Blood

Rating 3/5   Word Count 4103   Review this Chapter

Things started to piece together like puzzle. Uncanny occurrences that had previously slipped into oblivion now seemed to be blaringly obvious: Nana lifting the couch to sweep beneath it, the metal-bending abilities exhibited by Mia when she was ticked, the fast talking my Uncles used when they wanted to keep me out of the loop, the homeruns that could put the pros to shame. Apparently, I did not watch enough TV. Perhaps, other children would have keyed into it earlier but for me it was the norm. Couldn't every one's mom lift cars? Didn't all dads uproot trees like weeds? The rapid movements, the super hearing, the superman strength, it was all vampire stuff.

Mia found it liberating to be able to tell me why I was different. She stressed that I was normal, they were not. After several months, Popeye sullenly proposed that I play with other kids. But when Nessie offered to take me to play with Jake's cousins, both my Mia and Popeye were less than enthusiastic to say the least.

Much to Mia's dismay, the werewolf discussion went a hell of a lot better than the vampire discussion. I danced around for minutes when I understood that the trio, who loitered at our house almost endlessly, was the same three wolves who stalked it. This was a hundred times better than a puppy in my eyes!

The next time Jake came through our front door, I about plowed him down with my hug. Nessie beamed, glad that I accepted him so sincerely. Reluctance and skepticism shrouded him as he looked to her for an explanation for the newborn affection, but I supplied the answer.

"Jake, I'm so happy you are a good wolf and not the kind that will eat Nana or huff down our house," I confessed, still glued to him. My Mia made a faint gagging noise from the other side of the room, but it was covered by the roaring laughter of Ness and Jake. Jake lifted me up by my ankles, holding me upside down while pretending to nimble on my tummy. My playful shrieking made Mia's attentive state double. She did not mind when my Popeye and I roughhoused, but Jake was an entirely different matter. She flicked on the TV to provide self-distraction.

Mia and Popeye laid down some werewolf guidelines. They were forbidden to shift in front of me, unless a parental figure was present. After being warned and sworn to the guidelines, Leah, Seth, and Jake were declared tolerable werewolf relations. Leah's interactions, however, were kept to a bare minimum, but Mia did grudgingly allow me to invite her to my extravagant, but intimate, seventh birthday party.

As for the rest of the canine mutants, they all were to be ignored and avoided, under threat of instant death.

Despite their prejudices, my parents agreed to a trial play date, on the contingency that Jake be the only one of his kind around and Nessie be a vigilant monitor. Ness was the only Cullen welcomed on Quileute land. She was our go-between, an ambassador of sorts. Ulterior motivation for the consent was based in the fact that Mia wanted to let Ness know that she was trusted, since this was her idea.

It was misting the day I visited at the South Side Park, a muddy recreational area with outdated, splinter-causing playground equipment. I was so apprehensive; Nessie had to push me forward. She and Jake watched me from a bench, sitting closer to each other than they would have ever dared to do at our house. While I did not fit in with my family, I definitely did not fit in with human children. I talked differently; my speech had taken a 180 since I had become a Cullen. I now talked with etiquette uncommon for my age. I walked differently, an imitation of my poised female role models. I even played differently, too rough for most girls, a product of wrestling with my Popeye. After a short time, I came back to Ness and asked to go home.

"What's the big rush, Goldilocks?" Jake asked in his husky, bantering voice. I could tell that he was not happy with the idea of being uprooted from his snuggling time with Nessie. But Nessie nodded and got up.

"It's just that the game is on at one and I don't want to miss kick off," I said shrugging my little kid shoulders. "You're coming over, right?" Jake flashed his big goofy grin and looked me over. I did not like that he ignored my invitation.

"You sure are one strange little kid," he said naively. Nessie grew instantly protective and smacked his arm.

"Let's go, Emmy," she said haughtily, shaking her head at her foolish beau. I took her hand and let her tow me to the car. He watched us walk off, clueless to what had perturbed her.

She helped me buckle into the back seat, after removing my mud-covered shoes. Next, she climbed in behind the wheel, but instead of the car roaring to life, I heard her soft sigh.

"Can you drive slowly so SHE doesn't think that I did not try," I asked sincerely. She was a fast driver like everyone else in our family. Her flashy car was passed down from her mother's human days. The thing was a tank. Ness drove it resentfully on back roads only, but when her parents were out of town she secretively drove the Vanquish or traveled by bike. Not that they were any less showy, just a lot more fun.

"No one will think..."

"Nessie, please just lie to her," I encouraged.

"You made friends with Claire and she's only a few years older than you," she countered, sounding more and more like a mother.

"And you!" I huffed, reminding her she was not so old. It was true; I had just turned seven and Nessie was eight and a-half, not that the half matters when you're completely full grown. Claire was actually two years older than Nessie, but she acted more like my age.

"Emmalie," she said with an exasperated hiss which made her sound like her father.

"Nessie, please, you can't understand because you're perfect. Just tell my Mia I had a great time and made friends," I proposed squarely. I think she could see my hurt. Nessie was overly pensive for a moment before she spoke.

"Emmalie, you know that I am your friend and always will be," she said her voice so sincere and sweet, like a lone violinist. I stared at her for a moment; I was still sitting in my booster seat due to Washington state law and she was old enough to drive where she pleased. It was hard to believe. Years later, I would see that she really meant it and I appreciated her for telling me so. But at the moment, all I wanted to do was kick the back of her nice leather seat - which I did.

Before we left, Ness and Jake shared in a kissy-face make up, one in which he leaned through the car window and tried to suck the life out of her. Forget kick off, I thought, we'll be lucky if we get home before the Superbowl game. The lip-locked mushiness seemed never-ending. No matter how many times I kicked the seat, they just did not stop. Eventually, I succeeded in sabotaging the moment by singing an annoying song my Popeye taught me.

Later that afternoon, we had what I like to refer to as my 'premature mid life crisis.' I was sulky, a truth that did not go unobserved under Mia's watchful gaze. My team was down by 14, Nessie and Jake had ditched for some sappy date night, and Mia was being overly annoying. On top of all that, my head had developed a pounding pulse while my breathing felt a little strained. I was getting sick again.

"Emmalie, I thought you said you finished your milk," she called from the kitchen area. Her French-tipped finger pointed to the full glass of soy milk on the midnight black granite counter. She beckoned me from the game and back to the kitchen with her same finger. I reluctantly dallied over to her side. I was so busted.

"Oh," I said, nodding at it and thinking fast, "that was Jake's glass." I picked it up and was about to dump it in the stainless steel sink when it disappeared from my hand and appeared in hers. "It's Jake's!" I insisted again. But her eyes narrowed at the falsehood and she planted a hand on her hip. I could hear the guys shouting from the other side of the open room and turned to glance at the TV.

"That's a lie. Drink it now. It is good for you," she said menacingly, setting it back in its original location. Huffily, I went over and climbed up on the bar stool. She was so unfair. I didn't make a big deal about what she drank; at the very least she could return the favor

"Yeah, yeah, if it's so good, why don't you drink it?" I mumbled as she exited the room. But she swung around faster than a dancer doing a pirouette and glared. Super hearing had me busted again.

"Excuse me," she demanded, her voice low, her eyes just daring me to account for the statement. I just glared darts at the milk. "After you finish that and the game is over, you can head upstairs for a nap," she said coldly, walking over to me. She sat down next to me as if to say 'and I am not going anywhere until it's gone.'

No one else had to drink milk, take naps, and play with kids they didn't know all in one day. So I did what every other kid in the world does. I spilled the milk. 'Dumped it' would be the more appropriate choice of words. Right on top of her perfectly parted golden hair. Her shriek was so loud it almost shattered the empty crystal glass. I quickly slid down from the bar stool and ran for cover, up the stairs to higher ground, a battle tactic Uncle Jazz had taught me. Cover came in the form of Alice who was just coming from her closet haven to meet me in my escape. She had an endearing little smirk plastered on her face as she plucked me up.

"You've got guts, kid," she admitted in low whisper. I already was regretting what I did.

"Emmmmmeetttt," I heard my Mia call, her voice distressed.

"What is it, babe?" he replied calmly out of habit, his attention still on the TV. He was very good at ignoring her melodramatics; it was one of the things that kept them balanced. She was high-strung; he was down to earth. This was the balance that allowed them to coexist.

"You NEED to deal with YOUR daughter," she hissed severely.

"Uhhh, babe, the game is kind of on, can this wait?" he asked not too staggered by her screaming.

"Emmmmmmmetttttt, get your ass in here," she shrieked. I heard him grumble and then her voice raised an octave, yelling to him. Alice just held me and we waited together at the top of the steps.

"Jesus Christ, Rose! I'll deal with her. Cool down, you're going to make the milk go sour," he chuckled to himself as he climbed the stairs. My scent and heart beat were always a dead giveaway; I could never hide for long. He took me from Alice's arms and kept walking to my room. "Jezze, Emm could you at least wait till half time to throw fits? You're making me miss the game."

"Emmett McCarty Cullen," my mother rebuked from down stairs. "You are supposed to scold her for her misbehavior, not ask her to re-schedule!"

My Popeye laughed and then gave me the talk, followed by the heartless sentence.

I did not have to drink the milk but I did go to bed at two thirty in the afternoon, no football game. All day I stayed in my bedroom, screaming and crying. But I was ignored.

"I hate being human! I hate it! I hate it! I hate it!" I yelled knowing they could all hear me. It was fortunate that our neighbors did not live within earshot, because I'm certain this was out of the usual run of things for a child to shout.

After I had calmed down, I played with my GI Joes and doll house, a peculiar combination of playthings. At some point I did fall to sleep, exhausted from the day.

At seven in the evening, my Mia jostled me from my sleep and offered me a sandwich and stupid glass of milk. Her hair was now washed and smelled like lilac and vanilla again. This time I drank the milk, but she and I were not on speaking terms quite yet.

Several hours later, my Popeye came to tell me goodnight and to smother out my reading light, like some spellbound reading-Nazi tutored to suck away fun. He took my little desk lamp and placed it on an unnaturally high shelf.

"Sorry, your Mia says no books tonight. I really do not know why you like them anyways," he said looking at my well-stocked cabinet of youth classics and winking. "I was thinking we could rip out all those stupid book shelves and put in a foosball table." He could tease me even in the serious moments. He had a type of faux sternness. When he'd seen Mia with milk in her hair, his voice had sounded as if he was going to roll over laughing. "Stay in bed. No coming into our room tonight. Kay, babe?"

Mia never came in to say good night, so I cried softly on my silk pillow and then resorted to sobbing. At some point that night, I felt pain in my ribs and my sobbing became a deep cough. When I coughed a lot, sometimes it scared me because I was unable to breathe. I had gotten sick a few times before. Papa Car thought it all to be related to allergies. But this was the worst as of yet.

I was determined not to bother my parents this night, not after already upsetting them. So I went to find Papa Car, tiptoeing across the ancient wooden floor, which creaked in defiance.

"Papa Car," I said peeking into his office, "I am so sad that I made myself ill." He chuckled and then opened the door and picked me up. I was a petite 7 year old, 20th percentile in height and weight. Everyone was always holding me.

"What hurts, my love?" he asked, not bothered by my interrupting him.

"Well, my soul and my throat and my head," I admitted sadly. He smiled for a second more and then studied me carefully with his wise face on. He appeared a little concerned. Then he leaned over and smelled me, his Greek noise wrinkling a little.

Alice and Nessie once told me that I smelled weird. Nessie said I smelled sour. Alice claimed it was more of a fermented smell. My Popeye smelled it too. Sometimes, I would see him sniff and get disorientated; the kind of disorientation one would get after taking a sip of something and were shocked when it was not what was expected.

Papa Car went into the other room and returned with my child-size pea coat. It was a coat that Alice got me for my half birthday; Alice was always looking for reason to shop. He quickly buttoned it up over my cotton nightgown and swiped me up not saying a word about where we were going yet. I was expecting him to head toward the front door but instead he ascended up the stairs to my parent's room. He knocked then spoke not waiting.

"Rose, Emmalie awoke with a slight cough. I am going to take her to the office for a little exam," he explained quietly.

He turned to walk away but the door flew open and there she was, wrapped in a sheet like some Greek goddess in a silk toga. In just a sheet, my mother could put to shame any designer dress.

"What? Should I come?" she sounded so youthful and afraid. Her eyes were fading darker but her pale skin appeared almost as silvery as the moon in the midnight sky.

"No, Rose, it's fine. I'll be back shortly," he assured, smiling. She looked at me and gave me a weak smirk as if telling me to be brave.

"Emma, baby, why did you not come and fetch me?" she asked in a meek voice. I could hear the hurt. There was no anger any more.

"Popeye told me to stay in my bed and I did not want to be any trouble," I explained with little wheezes. She cringed when she heard the rattle of my lungs.

"Oh, sweetling, I am so sorry you are ill. Do you wish me to come?" she asked musically, hoping I'd say yes. She cupped my cheek in her cold hand and stared at my eyes.

But I shook my head. She could get sad so easily, I did not want to traumatize her. Things like sniffles and colds had her imagining the worst.

Popeye appeared, still tugging a t-shirt over his broad shoulders and tight torso.

"What's wrong?" he boomed.

"I'm not sure yet, but like I said it will not take long to run some tests," Papa Car guaranteed. My Popeye nodded then gave me a big hug. My Mia did the same and then they let Papa Car take me.

I sat on the cold, paper-covered table swinging my legs while Papa Carlisle did the usual doctor stuff. As he conducted his own lab tests, he looked into my eyes, my throat, and then ran his cold hands down my tummy, pressing in certain areas.

"Well, I can tell for certain that you have bronchitis and a sinus infection again," he said with a sigh. Then with a peek in my ears, he noted, "And an ear infection in your left ear. Looks as if your immune system decided to take the week off."

That did not sound good, so I scowled and then unconsciously shivered.

"No worries, love! It's all nothing anti-biotics can't mend. But, Emm, can I do one more test? It will require a blood sample if you don't mind."

I nodded away in consent, trying to hide anything that resembled fear. He banded off my arm and told me to hold still. I watched as Papa Car pierced me then coaxed the blood into a tube. I was entranced with the crimson liquid. I watched as it separated into yellow-white and burnt red. After praising me, Papa Car handed me his stethoscope and let me play while he took my blood to another room to test it. Once I had listened to everything in the whitewashed room, I grew impatient. He took a very long time. When he came back into the room, he acted as if he had forgotten about the blood and all the long tests he was doing. He just held up my coat and smiled a sad smile.

"Ready to go, Thumbelina?" he asked. My face went blank as I recognized the ploy. He was retreating; something was not right. Papa Car never kept the truth from me. In an instant, many things went through my mind, one of which I could no longer could contain.

"Does it hurt to die, Papa Car?"

He knelt, placing an icy hand on my fevered cheek. He brushed his thumb across my face and gazed at me, intently considering possible answers. At seven years old, I didn't need anyone to lie to me.

"You, Emma, are an exceedingly observant and perceptive child. Let's not resort to talk of death just yet," he retorted, but he looked worried even as he said it.

"Ok," I agreed weakly. But all I could think of was my Mia and how hurt she would be if I died. Who would she dress up or play dolls with? Who would she try to cook for or waste her time for? So I thought of all the ways to keep her happy. She had always said I was her joy, her sunshine, but I had to think of other ways now.

"Papa Carlisle, would it be all right if we never tell my Mia I'm sick? I don't want to take her sunshine away," I said referring to the song she sometimes sang. I shifted edgily before him, hoping he would not scold me for suggesting such an untruth.

"Emmalie, this is your story to tell, not mine. As long as you would like to keep it to yourself, I'll not interfere. But secrets such as these only stay secret for so long."

I think we both feared telling her. She was not always the rashest being, we both knew that. Somewhere along the line our mother-daughter relationship took a twist. The nurture was still there, but I now looked to protect her as well. The woman could fight off lions, but somehow I knew she was fragile. Her heart was like my favorite porcelain tea pot. It was broken once, and while Popeye help me glue it together, I was no longer allowed to play with it. I did not want to. Could I really tell her something that would shatter her heart?

"And Popeye, too? He will be sad," I stated. "We can't tell him either."

Papa Car nodded in reluctant approval. "We will, however, need to set up a time each week where you can come with me to work for checkups, and you will need to take an ARV dose daily. Antiretroviral drugs have progressed to the point where I should be able to prescribe it to you in syrup form," he added. Antiretroviral -- that was a scary word, the first of many. Checking his overbooked schedule, he gazed up at me over leather planner.

"What is wrong with me?" I asked, my voice faltering as I strived to be grown up enough not to cry.

"You are HIV positive, my love. It's a virus that weakens your body's ability to fight other things. You're CD4 level..." But he cut himself short, looking at my wide-eyed gape. "I mean the soldier cells are low in number. Your state is progressed but not untreatable, sweetie. Do not worry," he said, knowing that I wanted to hear the truth.

"What's 'progressed'?"

"Most children are symptomatic at birth. Rarely does a child show signs as late as you. I suspect that this is so because we have not exposed you to humans and viruses, until lately."

"How did I get it? Was it the ear infection?"

"No, my love, not an ear infection. Your sickness most likely passed in venously, meaning you got it from your birth mom, well before you were even born," he explained. How rude of her to give me such a terrible thing before she even knew me, I thought.

"I don't want to give it to anyone," I shared distressed.

"My love, this illness is not gifted. When passed, it is unintentional. But with the crowd you run with, I don't believe that should be a worry. Vampires don't get sick," he stated, smoothing my bed-head hair with his steel-like hand. "And if Ness was susceptible to viruses, she would have contracted them long ago from her diet. As for the werewolves, it would defy everything I have studied as of yet. Their body temperatures and cell regeneration make contraction of viruses impossible." Later we did talk about being cautious and what that meant but for now it was enough.

"Will I ever get better?"

"No, my love, you will not. But I will do everything in my power to keep you so you do not digress," he vowed. I slipped into my coat and placed my hand in Carlisle's tight grasp. I dragged my feet on the way to the parking garage, and then I asked Papa Car to pick me up. He carried me to the Mercedes while I faked sleep. Behind my closed-lid façade, my mind was spiraling with worry.

The understanding came that I was going to die. I had been afraid of that because it was mentioned so much.

"Emmett don't you dare take her in that jeep again. It could kill her."

"Jasper, stop throwing her around! You will break her head open."

"Do not let her by the water, she will drown."

"Do not run with my baby! If you fall, you could crush her."

This was my one monster: death. I could not run. Death was inevitable. The only question was when.