A/N

This was originally an entry for a contest, but the contest is now over and I decided to go back and tweak this.

I've done some editing, and added the time dividers back in.

Special thanks to my ficwife, Lambcullen, for encouraging me to do this. She knows me far too well.

Also thanks to IrishTwiSisters for throwing in and betaing for me. She's such a lovely wee star.

Music:
Satellite Heart: Anya Marina
Teenage Angst: Placebo (acoustic)
Strawberry Wine: Deana Carter


The stones were so gray, they were almost a pale blue. It was hard to walk on them, but I continued forward, they were an easy distraction. So I didn't fall and break my neck, I had to constantly stare at my sneakers, avoiding broken green beer bottles, shards of plastic and other debris. To my left, was a tall, forgotten grassy field. I didn't know that grass could bloom, or maybe that was just weeds.

Directly to my right, was the tracks I'd been following for the last half hour. I had yet to see a train, and wondered if at some point there might be one. I was hoping it would whip by me, the streamlined air pulling me closer to its gravity. I imagined it wouldn't be full of people, but empty and bereft entirely. Maybe it would be hauling coal or some other cargo, its delivery taken for granted over the miles it covered.

Something glimmered in the afternoon sun, bouncing the light for a second as I walked by, but it caught my eye. It wasn't glass, but metal. I turned towards it, bending down to pick it up.

It was a penny, flattened by some passing train, then discarded into the stones at the side. The dirt from years of use left the warped image of Abraham Lincoln's profile on the front, his chin grotesquely pulled into a caricature of his usual self. I was fascinated, and put it in my pocket, a small keepsake of my afternoon.

As I looked up, the same dirty bronze flashed in front of my eyes, and then disappeared into the tall weeds. It was a guy, that much I knew. I could only make out brief flashes of him, as he weaved through the tall grass.

It was the first human I'd seen outside of my Gran and Grandpa Swan all summer. I'd been banished from my own home, and packed off all the way across country. All of this, so my mom and dad could attempt to reconcile their on and off again marriage. I'm seventeen, I should be able to stay. It's not like I'm a little kid sitting on the tug-of-war rope between them anymore.

I guess I was here to give them privacy. I tried not to think about that too much.

I watched the mystery guy with his dirty penny hair disappear. I sighed, wondering if I had called out would he have stopped for me.

I started the long trek back to Gran's house, my right hand in my pocket, my fingers smoothing over the surface of the penny.

/~¢~\

I tried to tell myself that I was not looking for the guy I'd seen, but it was a total lie.

I was hoping I would see him today, even if he was a jerk, just to have a conversation that did not involve my grandfather's miniature battleship collection, or my grandmother's desperate search for her missing recipe cards.

I had the penny in my pocket, as I stumbled over the rocks, less careful today. My eyes weren't on the ground, they were watching for the afternoon sun to glint off of my dirty penny.

I must have wandered for an hour along the old wooden posts and metal tracks, without a sight of any life. I stopped, and pursed my lips. It was hotter today, the sweat trickling down the middle of my back. I had made sure I put suncream on today, as I'd burned my nose slightly yesterday. I looked to the field, the grass waving slightly in the afternoon breeze, whispering to me.

I bit my lip. Maybe I should wander through the field, maybe his house was on the other side.

I stepped in, parting the fronds of grass so I could walk between them. Somewhere far off, a cicada beat its wings together. The odd buzzing sound was so uniquely summer, but it seemed like it was a warning, as if I were trespassing through the summer greenery.

I let my mind wander off, thinking of how different this was to my usual home in Washington State. Gran and Grandpa lived in rural Southern Maryland. I wasn't used to the sticky summer heat, the humid nights not providing any relief from the sweltering days.

I continued my trek through the tall grass; it started to get itchy after awhile, as it brushed against my legs. I kept swatting at the strands, wondering if it was a bug. I haphazardly parted the grass, as I went through it, and when I looked up, I realized I was nearing a tree line.

As I stepped forward, the thick grass slowly thinned, and the shade of large oak trees gave momentary relief from the overhead sun. I had my cell phone on me, I knew I would probably end up lost. Grandpa had told me if I did get lost while I was out, to listen for water and head downstream, I would find the small creak at the back of their property and head in. I walked the edged line between the trees and the grass, wondering if I had only imagined the guy I'd seen.

I was so distracted by watching where I placed my feet, I didn't see it at first. It was a small rustle in the weeds, and my eyes darted towards the noise. I froze, paralyzed.

Making its way through the leaves, was a snake. It had brown stripes, and a coppery sheen to its scaled body, which seemed half hidden under a ghost of nearly discarded skin. It stuck its tongue out, tasting the air and I shuddered. I started to move away from it slowly, but I stepped on a large stick which it had apparently slithered over, disturbing it. The snake backed up, its tail thrashed, making noise in the dried leaves, and I squealed in fright.

"Holy shit! Don't move!"

It was my penny guy, and he appeared from the trees, holding a large stick. He grabbed the snake by the tail and picked the head up with the forked end of the stick. The snake was stunned, as he swung it in the air and tossed it far away into the forest.

I could feel myself hyperventilating, and in the summer heat, my body was too cold.

He stepped closer to me, his concerned eyes the same color as the dark green grass behind us. He wore a white t-shirt, it was tight over his chest and low slung button-fly jeans. He was close now, his hands settling on my upper arms.

"You ok?"

I nodded, trying to pull myself together.

"You sure?"

I could feel his hands, they were warm, and his touch jolted through me. I glanced at the trees behind him.

"It's gone now, probably landed far away enough; it's not gonna come back this direction, ok?"

I nodded again, still unable to form words. Although it was for an altogether different reason.

"What's your name?" He asked me, his mouth kicking up at the corner in a small smile. His face was angular, and I guessed he was around my age, maybe a year or two older than me.

"Bella." I blurted out, too loud.

He chuckled, "Well, Bella. I'm Edward. You're not a familiar face. You just move in?"

I shook my head, "I'm staying with my grandparents over the summer. The Swans?" I wondered if he knew them.

"Oh, yeah. Old man Swan lives just off of Route 6. I used to mow his grass for him when I was in high school." His green eyes looked into mine. He was older than me, if he had graduated high school. This would be my senior year.

He continued talking in his velvety voice that was doing funny things to my insides, "Well, I suppose I'll walk you back, if you want."

I nodded again, still incapable of full sentences.

He released my arms, and I walked awkwardly beside him. His gait was smooth and masculine, and he shortened his stride so I could keep up.

"So, where you from, Bella?"

I bit the inside of my lip, "Washington State."

He didn't say anything to that, and we walked along in silence. I knew I was being rude, not returning small chit chat, but I didn't know what else to say.

All summer, I'd felt on edge, like I was waiting for something bad to happen. Like there would be a phone call with bad news. It had slowly wrapped itself around me, until it was on the inside, like a parasite gnawing on my brain. Which, is why I had started wandering in farther circles from the house.

"So do you live around here?" I asked.

"Yeah, just farther up the road from your Grandpa. But I'm only here for the summer. I go back to College Park in the fall."

I picked my way over a gnarled tree root that was sticking up from the ground, "What's your major?"

"Physics."

I felt a little intimidated by that. Math was not one of my strong points. I was better with English. My mother was forever trying to tempt me away from the pages I escaped to with bonding experiences. All the yoga, cooking classes, pottery, and massage therapy in the world couldn't tear me away from whatever I had purloined from the library that week.

"What are you studying?"

I blushed at this. He must have thought I was older, "This will be my senior year in high school."

"Oh."

That was all he said, and there seemed to be a yawning gap between us then. I was worrying my lip again, my mind drifting off, my fingers rubbing the penny in my pocket. I was wondering what I could say to fill the silence, when my foot caught a tree branch.

I would have landed on my face if he hadn't caught me. I grabbed hold of his arms for balance, I could feel his biceps flex under my fingers, and I barely covered my gasp as he steadied me.

"That's twice today, Bella. I think you owe me big time, now."

"Yeah?" He was close now, so close, and he smelled wonderful.

"Yeah. I'll get back to you when I decide what I want."

"'Kay." I sighed.

Bella Marie Swan, you are a smart female who reads at a college level. Single syllable answers to the hottest guy you've ever met are unacceptable!

Aside from Physics, pep talks were also not my forte.

All too soon, we neared the fence at the back of Grandpa's property. There was a rusty little gate with a latch lock that I could easily walk through, if I could get it open.

"Well, I think this is me," I said.

"Yeah," he replied. I watched as he absently ran his fingers through his hair.

There was this awkward silence, it stretched between us, only interrupted by the beating wings of the cicadas in the trees, and the gurgling of the creek nearby.

I was about to turn away when he stopped me, "Bella."

I looked at him, as he came closer to me. He licked his lips as he stopped directly in front of me. He was so close that when I breathed in, my breasts touched his chest.

"I've decided what I want," he said, his voice husky and thick.

"What you want for what?" My brain was scrambled.

"For saving you." His green eyes were intense as they met mine, and I watched his tongue dart out to lick his lips again. I was mesmerized by every movement he made.

"What's that?"

"This." His lips settled on mine softly, his hands settling on my upper arms like they had before. My eyes fluttered closed, and my body tingled, as his hands moved into my hair. His tongue touched my lower lip briefly, and our heads angled. He deepened the kiss as I stood on my tip toes, my hands sliding up the soft cotton of his t-shirt. His tongue touched mine, caressing, as his fingers flexed in my hair.

My body ignited, and I pressed closer, needing more. His arms slipped to my back, holding me closer to him. The summer heat sizzled around us, my body pulsing, my heart racing.

He was the first to break the kiss, and I stood there with my eyes closed. He brushed his lips over mine again, briefly, before slowly putting some space between us.

"See you later, Bella."

I opened my eyes, as he let me go and slowly walked away. I watched him move, he was confidence and sleek muscle, and it was almost painful to watch him leave. He looked back once, and caught me watching him walk away. A small smile played on his lips.

/~¢~\

I went back every day for a week, but I didn't see him again. Every night before I went to sleep, I replayed that kiss in my mind. I'd had boyfriends in high school, I'd been kissed. But never ever did I feel like that during the kiss, or after.

I was so disappointed that I hadn't seen him, but I was beginning to get to know the area much better. I had found this old gnarled tree that had survived a lightning strike. It was split down the middle, and slightly bowed, but it continued to flourish defiantly in the middle of the forest.

Before I headed out, the phone rang. I heard Gran answer it and her voice shouted upstairs, "Bella, it's your daddy! Come on down and get this phone!"

I tromped down the stairs from my bedroom. Gran smiled at me from her lemony kitchen, as she handed me the phone. It was one of those old phones from the early nineties; it had a cord on it that would probably wrap around the entire house.

"Hi Dad. How's it going with Mom?"

"Hi Bells. It's um. It's not going too good."

"Oh."

"Yeah. I think this is it, Bells."

For the next hour, I kept a disciplined face as I listened to my father cry on the phone. I listened to his hurt, to his depression. I humffed it onto my back like a heavy hiker's pack. I knew this routine, had seen and heard it many times before. Since I was little, I'd been daddy's little sponge. I absorbed it all, and he would feel better expelling his hurt onto my shoulders.

When he was finished, I hung up the phone, my eyes wide. I felt like I'd been worked over mentally by some prize fighter. The summer away from my friends in this fucking heat had been a waste. A fucking waste.

I walked out of the house, needing to get away before Gran asked me what was wrong.

I walked on and on, not really seeing where I was going. I found my lightning tree, and it seemed to have sagged as well, it didn't seem as vibrant. Maybe being split was taking its toll.

I sat down underneath it, not caring I would get my jean shorts dirty. I put my head on my knees and in the stagnant summer air I fell to pieces. I cried hot tears onto my sticky sweaty skin. I pulled my flattened penny out, trying to find comfort in the smooth surface.

"Bella?"

My head snapped up at the sound of his voice. He looked good, too good, and I was a puffy-eyed mess on the ground.

He lowered himself to sit beside me.

"You ok?"

"Uh huh," I squeaked.

"Yeah, pull the other one. Do you wanna talk about it?" he asked.

"No," I put my head back down onto my arms, hiccupping.

I could still feel tears welling up in my eyes, and I knew I was far from done. I tried to hold it in while he sat next to me. My body jerked in protest, and these embarrassing little muffled whimpers kept escaping.

I heard a deep breath issue from Edward next to me. I felt his arm stretch behind my back and he pulled me over, so I sagged into his side.

"Go on and cry, Bella."

"No." I huffed, a sob escaping my throat.

"Do you want me to go?"

"No."

He was quiet beside me, his hand moving over my arm. He smelled wonderful, woodsy, clean, and something masculine.

I let go finally, crying quietly and he let me, the tears leaking down my face. I quieted down after awhile, and we sat together. His long legs were stretched out, his free hand plucking at his jeans. I stared at his feet, at the worn green Converse, and vaguely wondered what size he wore.

"So, my mom and dad are children who can never seem to sort their shit out." I blurted out, "It's why I'm here, this summer. So they can get it together…together. They split when I was very young, but have been on and off ever since."

I took a deep breath in, and let it out slowly. My voice was harsh from crying, his arm tightened around me.

"Maybe we can make your summer worthwhile."

"What do you mean?"

He removed his arm and started to get up. He took my hands, unfolding my arms and tugged me with him.

"C'mon. I know where there's a lake."

He tugged me after him, and I followed, my legs stiff from sitting for so long, "Slow down! I have shorter legs than you!"

"Oh! Sorry." He looked back over his shoulder and smiled at me. I was reminded of that day when he'd kissed me, and felt myself blushing. I wonder if he remembered it too.

He continued quickly, and just as I was about to ask him if it was any further, the tree line broke and we were on the edges of a large lake. There was a small pier, and he let go of my hand as he ran along it. He tugged his shirt off and my brain fainted, as I watched the play of muscle on his back.

He unzipped his jeans, and I blinked, as he stripped down to his black boxers. He looked back at me, all handsome college guy, and then dove into the water. I felt shy, and slightly self conscious.

Boyfriends, yes. First and Second base, yes. Nearly in the nude, in wet underwear, swimming in a lake with a guy I'd just cried all over, no.

"C'mon Bella!"

"Um. You go ahead. I'll just watch."

I walked along the pier and he swam up to me, splashing water at me. I squealed, and he laughed.

"Don't make me get out and throw you in."

My eyes widened in horror, "You wouldn't dare!"

His eyes took on a devilish glint, "Try me."

I bit my lip, and looked down at my clothes, fingering my t-shirt, and then at his, strewn on the wooden dock.

"Turn your back." I eyed him warily.

He laughed, "Yeah, ok."

He swam out a little bit and turned away from me. With shaking fingers, I removed my t-shirt and shorts. I had on dark blue cheekies today, and a matching bra. Thank God, I hadn't worn white.

The lake water seemed clear enough, as clear as lake water could be.

There was a small ladder on the side and I lowered myself gingerly, the ladder creaking under my weight. I swam up to him as he turned around. Before he could splash me, I splashed him first. He looked funny with his usually messy hair flattened against his head. He blinked as the water cleared from his eyes.

"You're so gonna get it for that."

I giggled as he dove for me, and I kicked away from him, swimming as fast as I could away. He caught my ankle and I thought he was going to drag me under. Instead, he tickled the arch of my foot, and I shrieked with laughter as his fingers brushed over my toes. The sound seemed to echo across the water in ripples, and he smiled broadly at me. I pulled my foot from his grasp and came forward.

Knowing I probably wouldn't be able to, I tried to dunk him. I braced my hands on his naked shoulders and pushed but he only caught me around the waist and threw me away from him into the water. I swam underneath the surface, and slowly rose. I could see his ab muscles, his navel, in the water, and more than anything, I wanted to trace over them. When I came up for air I was right in front of him.

The air seemed to shift around us, and we went from playful to charged. His hands were on my hips, pulling me forward, as he took my mouth into one of his dizzying kisses. I settled my hands on his wet shoulders. His chest was matted with fine hair and my brain and heart briefly cautioned me, but I shut them out. I wanted something for myself, I wanted to be reckless and impulsive, abandoning everything, every reason I shouldn't be here. I just wanted to enjoy myself, enjoy him. On some level, and maybe this was stupid, I trusted him.

His hands roamed up my back, as his tongue delved into my mouth. I was aware of his naked skin against mine, as I couldn't seem to get closer to him. I could feel my nipples tightening against the cotton of my bra and I felt frustrated, wanting more of him.

Instinctively, I wrapped my legs around him, my hands cupping his jaw as our kiss deepened; his lips firm but soft, his mouth hot and wet. The water wasn't cold, it was slightly cooler than the air though, but not by much. His hands cupped my backside, and I gasped into his mouth when I felt him very aroused and hard, press against me, two layers of cotton separating us. His lips moved from my mouth to my neck, sucking at the water on my skin. I shivered, not from the cold, as he grazed himself against me again, the motion bringing us closer as he briefly rubbed over a sensitive spot.

He groaned against my neck and I whimpered, moving my hips, rocking, as he continued to squeeze my backside.

He lifted me higher, and the warm summer air touched my breasts as they rose out of the water. His mouth found my nipple through the cotton, and he sucked greedily. This was new territory, and he unlocked this mystery for me, as his teeth teased, his hot mouth moving over me. I threw my head back, and my hands held tighter to his shoulders. He kissed the center of my chest and then teased my other breast. I wanted the bra off, and as if he had read my thoughts, his fingers had the clasp undone.

I shrugged out of it, and it floated around us as his eyes hungrily took in the sight of naked breasts. I blushed, but before I could pull away, his mouth was back. Sucking on my pink nipple; his tongue laved, swirled, his teeth making me moan.

He let me slip back down his body, while his mouth kissed from the swell of my breast, over my collarbone and up my neck. I felt him press against me again.

We moaned together.

He sucked my earlobe into his mouth as my swollen nipples pressed against him, the coarse hair on his chest teasing me.

I ground against him again and he groaned in my ear, "We need to stop, Bella."

I didn't hear him at first, but I felt him start to loosen his grip on me.

Silence followed as we slowly came down, our hands continued to roam over each other, until finally, I was treading water. My bra was floating about five feet away from us. I reached for it and with my back to him, put it back on. He came up behind me, pressing his lips against the curve of my neck.

"See, Bella. The summer wasn't all bad, was it," he whispered against my skin. I leaned back in the water, resting against him. I could feel him still hard against me.

"No. It wasn't."

I floated home that evening. Again, he walked me to the gate. Again, he kissed me.

For the next two weeks, we met up almost every single day. We got to know each other; I learned he was studying to go into Astrophysics. I snuck out one evening, and we lay underneath the stars on a blanket while he pointed out constellations and planets to me. I loved watching him make connections with his long fingers, and I stared more at him than I did the tiny glowing gems in the sky.

He turned to me, laying on his side, his arm propping his head up. The moon was huge in the sky tonight, and the chirp of crickets surrounded us. I could also make out the slight gurgle of frogs in the creek, and in the darkness, fireflies flickered. Their small, neon golden light flaring briefly and randomly around us.

He stroked a finger down my face, and that look crossed his eyes. I knew he was going to kiss me, and I could feel my veins on fire, my pulse racing, as he lowered his head to mine. He was always so careful with me, gentle, but strong and dominant enough to make it exciting. Kissing Edward, touching Edward, was like nothing else I had ever had in my life. I was addicted to him.

Our legs tangled and his hand found its way under my shirt, kneading my breast in his palm as his tongue flicked over mine. He let me suck his lower lip when his hips pressed against mine. We were always hungry for more, pressing closer, his hardness seeking my softness, his lines fitting to my curves. My hands were in his hair as he knelt over me, between my legs, grinding against me. His hand ran down my bare leg, hitching my knee up to his waist, and I whimpered, needing more. The denim between us frustrating but oddly delicious. His lips sucked the skin of my neck, to the point where I wore my hair down when I was in the house with my grandparents.

I would raise his shirt, slowly, tracing the contours of his back, his skin warm under my hands. He would kneel above me and take it off, and my hands would find where they had left off, always searching, mapping, as his mouth settled back onto mine, tongue caressing mine. The sultry evening heat surrounded us, and the air held its breath.

Until finally, he would reach that point where he had to pull away, and we lay panting on the blanket, side by side, with no one but the moon wiser.

/~¢~\

We spent a day wandering along the tracks together. He held my hand so I wouldn't fall.

"You know, I think the train is due today," he said absently.

"What do you mean it's due today?"

"The train only goes by once a month, hauling whatever it's got. It's usually around the end of the month. We'll need to listen out for it so we can clear away from the tracks."

We walked on in the heat, until there was a dull thunder that could be heard down the tracks. Edward tugged me into the grass, as the train blew its horn. Just as it started to whir by, the vibrations from the engine trembling through me, Edward pulled me against him. The wind whipped through the grass as the train passed, my hair lifted away from my face. His lips devoured mine, his hands cupping my face, his thumbs stroking my jaw line. He kissed me deeply, and it was exhilarating. Edward, his own force of gravity, pulling me closer to him, every particle of him charged and heating me to my very centre.

Time passed too swiftly.

Two weeks turned into three, then four and before I knew it, it was the middle of August and my return ticket was booked for the eighteenth.

I couldn't tell him goodbye, and the thought of never seeing him again filled me with dread. I would be back in Smalltown, Washington State, the summertime a dream to cling to. I felt a huge lump building at the back of my throat.

This is how he found me, sitting against my lightning tree, rubbing my penny between my fingers. I looked down at it, Abraham Lincoln's face nearly worn away. I thought about my parents, and wondered who would be at the airport to pick me up.

I remembered something my mom had said to me once.

"You're like a bad penny, sometimes, Bella. You just keep coming back. Does your father know you're over here?"

That had hurt. A lot. I had been thirteen at the time, and it was during one of their many battles. I had been sent to live with my dad, even though mom only lived a town away. I'd caught a ride from a family friend on their way over.

I tried to swallow the lump in my throat, the thought of going back to my parents in emotional turmoil settling like a greasy brick in my stomach. I wanted to vomit, but felt too heavy to move.

"Bella?"

Edward. There he was, six foot one of memories, grass green eyes, and his dirty penny hair.

"You ok?"

I knew I wouldn't be able to hide it from him, "No."

He put his arm around me and used his other hand to lift my chin so he could look me in the eye, "Tell me."

"I don't want to go home, Edward. I know I have to, but I just can't face what's there for me. I'm tired of having to be their middle ground all the time. Do you know my mom called me a bad penny, once?"

He shook his head, "You're not a bad penny, Bella. I thought I was going to be so bored over the last few weeks, until I met you. Well you, and that crazy copperhead," he sighed and his hand absently smoothed down my side, making me tingle. "I had to come home because my loans won't pay for my apartment over the summer. This has to be one of the best summers of my life, and that's because of you."

/~¢~\

Grandpa drove me to the airport, the whole way I felt morose. I knew what I was going back to, knew that I would end up being the crutch between two middle-aged children. At least I had my memories of Edward over the summer to keep me from going totally out of my mind.

He had kissed me goodbye underneath the shade of that tree, and kissed the tears that fell down my cheek. I had no idea if I would ever see him again. We traded the usual: numbers, e-mail. I was watching him walk away, this time he didn't turn back.

"Edward, wait!"

He stopped, turning around, as I ran over to him, my flattened penny in my hands.

"Here. I want you to have this." His brow furrowed as he took it.

"Are you sure?" He looked up into my eyes from the small piece of copper in his palm.

I nodded, "Yeah." The word broke on a small sob.

He licked his lips and reached into his pocket, the soft tinkle of change was muffled by the denim of his jeans.

He handed me a penny. It was older, I could make out the year 1986 in the tarnished copper. His lips touched mine for the last time, and then he was walking away again, his fist closed around the flattened penny.

I looked down and smiled, as tears fell on the dirty penny in my hand.


A/N

Thank you for reading.