Chapter One: Facade
A rabbit lifted itself up on its hind legs, nose and ears twitching for threats. Something in the air caught the animal's attention and it kicked up a puff of snow as it darted away. Seconds later, two figures appeared mere paces from where the rabbit stood moments ago. It was easy to see why the rabbit ran from one of the beings: it was a giant wolf, larger than any seen in the wild. But the wolf didn't seem interested in pursuing the rabbit; it was focused on the strange companion beside it- a girl looking to be five or six years old.
"I beat you, Jake!" the girl declared. The wolf was so massive it could have easily fit her entire body in its mouth, but instead its tongue lolled out and its tail wagged like an extremely overgrown pet dog. Whether human or wolf, Jacob was completely at the mercy of Renesmee.
Remesmee- or Ness, as she liked now to be called- was dressed in a warm parka with boots and gloves, though she didn't need any of these things to keep her warm. Jacob studied her for a moment longer before bounding off in the direction they came. Ness waited, knowing Jacob always had a reason to put distance between them. A few heartbeats later had him returning human and holding a woolen knit hat in his hands.
"You dropped this." He held it out for her. She made a face, resting her smaller hand on top of his. Jacob shook his head and pulled his hand away from her. "Use your words, Ness."
"I know." Around everyone except her grandfather Charlie, Ness was accustomed to simply projecting her thoughts into people's minds. She and Jacob had been practicing her use of vocal language for a month now and Ness still wasn't used to it. "I feel silly wearing this," she complained as she took the hat and slid it on her head.
"How do you think I feel?" Jacob retorted, gesturing to himself. He too wore a warm jacket and gloves; Ness couldn't help noting how his jacket came with a hood. "But like I told you before," Jacob went on, swiftly tying his hair up in a ponytail, "humans would be suspicious if they found us in the cold without all this stuff on."
Ness knew he would let her stop wearing the hat and gloves if she really asked, but there was something she wanted even more that required her to get used to such human restrictions. It was thinking of this desire that allowed Ness to change the subject.
"Don't you have a haircut appointment?"
This time it was Jacob who made the face. "Okay," he conceded, "but we're walking from here."
Ness flopped into the snow with a dramatic groan. She never would have been so theatrical with her parents, but Jacob encouraged her to act the age she appeared. Jacob's way was often more fun.
Eventually Ness got to her feet again and followed Jacob. Walking in such a vast wilderness felt so sluggish to her, but the scent on the breeze told her it was the right move: they weren't far from humans. A bit more walking let Ness see the tops of buildings, and a little while later the city came into full view.
Big cities were another thing she was learning grow used to lately. Forks and La Push were such small spaces Ness learned her way around in an afternoon. Her first trip into a city was conducted by her aunt Alice as Alice attempted to teach Ness about fashion. Though she was persistent, Alice eventually gave up, complaining that Ness inherited her mother's disinterest. Ness didn't want to tell her it was really because she felt like Alice treated her like a doll rather than a person.
Coming to large cities with Jacob was an entirely different experience. For one, they didn't spend all their time in clothing stores; he actually allowed her to explore. It was also good practice for interacting with humans. Ness already knew everyone in Forks and La Push, while the people of larger cities were complete strangers. Slowly she learned how to speak to them, though thankfully most were content with simple greetings.
Together Ness and Jacob entered the barber's. It fascinated her that there were different kinds of hair-cutting shops. The one Ness went to not long ago was called a salon; Jacob explained his was different because they also provided beard-shaving services. Ness had laughed trying to imagine Jacob, or any of her vampire male relatives, with a beard. The only ones who could probably pull it off were Emmett and possibly Carlile.
Ness found a seat and grabbed a magazine to occupy herself with while she waited. Jacob told her that the average six-year-old only had limited reading capabilities; Ness made sure the magazine she chose had plenty of pictures so none of the other customers would be suspicious. It was mainly as a prop, anyway; Ness's true focus was on all the different smells in the air. There was the sharp scent of humanity, of course, but also shampoo, shaving cream, and the cold of outside whenever the door opened. She picked out ones she was unfamiliar with and carefully inhaled until they were learned.
"Are you by yourself, dear?" The voice came from the older man who came in a few seconds ago. Ness knew that simply shaking her head would prompt another question from the man. Now was a good a time as any to practice talking with humans. She lifted her eyes from the magazine to focus on his face.
"I'm waiting for my brother," she answered. Ness studied the man's face, fascinated by all the imperfections. The oldest humans she knew were Charlie, Billy, and Sue- this man looked older, his face lined with wrinkles and his hair completely white.
"That's nice" Any possibility for further conversation was ended when the man was called by a barber. Jacob finished with his haircut moments later. His hair was still long enough to touch his jawline; they would only be in warmer weather for a short time, after all.
Jacob caught Ness's eye and raised both eyebrows, shaking out his shorter hair. She giggled and made a face at him in response. It was too early to tell if she liked his new look.
They were back outside again, this time headed for their hotel. They could have easily slept outside but this was another method for Ness to get used to humans. Not many were in this hotel, but every now and then she would see one in the hallways or in the room where they served breakfast. That was easy for Ness; she could observe without needing to interact.
The hardest moment was when Jacob took her to a park and Ness encountered humans her own age- or rather, the age she appeared. They expected her to play their games and chatter about things like school or favorite television programs. The children quickly dismissed her as boring and weird once she told them she was home-schooled and never watched television. The encounter still bothered her when she thought about it.
Ness thought on it now as she and Jacob swept through their hotel room making sure nothing was forgotten. However many times that Jacob assured her that she would be accepted regardless, Ness couldn't help worrying that she wasn't enough like a normal human child. She was familiar with Dr. Seuss but preferred T. S. Eliot; she knew the story of Jack and the Beanstalk but would rather go on a journey with Frodo Baggins. Not to mention she still cringed every time she forced herself to eat food and she was much too strong and fast.
"Hey, mopey." Jacob hoisted her into the air, pulling off her shoes and tickling her feet. He didn't stop until she was giggling and squirming in his arms. "Better?" he asked.
"A little." She pressed a hand to his cheek and this time he allowed her to show him how grateful she was for his presence.
"In that case, let's check out and head for the airport. Renee is waiting."