Disclaimer: I own nothing, not even the words – only the order in which they were placed. Stephenie Meyer and Little, Brown own the original characters.

This was originally posted just over a week ago as part of the Countdown to April Fool's Day hosted by Breath-of-twilight (Chapter 22). Special thanks to Breath-of-twilight and Mambomama for the encouragement, and again to Mambomama for the quick read-through. This marks my first attempt at anything lemony, so you've been forewarned.

That Time of the Month

It was that time of the month again.

The end of the month, that is. Not that other time of the month, when the Red Nile flooded her banks. No, if I had to deal with that on top of the standard end-of- the-month fuckery, well...let's just say I would most likely be spending the next twenty-to-life making friends with Big Bertha behinds bars for going on a homicidal rampage or something. Of course, that almost sounded preferable right now.

Sighing, I pushed through the door and entered the bar. The loud cacophony of a dozen of voices blended together assaulted my ears and only added to the headache that was forming behind my eyes.

No, the end of the month was always the worst. The outrageous rent for my hole-in-the-wall apartment was due the first of every month. Not that really came as a surprise, but this time around the first of the month and payday were not crossing paths at all – I had just enough to cover it in my bank account, and I could only hope that the pittance that was left could be stretched far enough to make it until the end of next week.

There would be no frivolous spending this weekend, which was just another kick in the pants, so to speak - the last week of every month my job always seemed to explode for no reason that I'd been able to discern. A little frivolity would do wonders for the stress. Hell, it was only Wednesday and already I wanted to curl up in a corner and block out the rest of the world. The only saving grace was the fact that Friday was a holiday, and I had to endure just one more day of craziness at the office. Of course, that reprieve only stretched so far – because it was a holiday, I was forced to spend it out of town with my crazy, exhausting relatives at the family's obligatory Good Friday lunch.

I hoped I had budgeted correctly and had enough money to get there and back. The last thing I wanted to do, after having raved about the fantastic life I was living in the city – the thought alone caused a snort of derision – was to ask my parents for gas money.

As my eyes adjusted to the muted lighting in the bar, I scanned the room for my boyfriend. It was his fault I was here and not unwinding at home. He knew how screwed up this week was for me, and he knew I had no cash to spare for a night out, but he insisted I come down anyway. I agreed reluctantly – damn him and his persuasive personality. I hadn't even had time to go home and eat something – I only lived around the corner, but if I went home there would be no getting me back out tonight. Luckily, I'd had the forethought to scarf down a granola bar before leaving the office – I hoped to score some free food, a perk of dating one of the bartenders, but only if the asshole of an owner was off tonight. I wasn't all that optimistic, though, considering how well my week had played out so far. At the very least, said boyfriend had to work later tonight, so I wouldn't have to stick around too long.

Speak of the devil...off in the corner, I saw him sit up and wave me over to the table.

Mike. He was both my best friend and my boyfriend. The former I loved wholeheartedly, but the latter, well...I loved him, but I had never been in love with him. Our relationship was complicated; our love life a mess. Over the last few years we had engaged in an on-again/off-again romantic relationship, each time lasting only a few months before we decided we were better off just friends. Or rather, I decided...I had my suspicions that Mike went along with it reluctantly; he was, after all, the one who always instigated our "on" periods, convincing me to convince myself that each time would be different, that we would "get it right."

I wanted to believe him, I really did – who doesn't want the convenience of falling in love with their best friend? But it just was not happening for me, no matter how much effort I put into our relationship. Mike and I were destined to just be good friends, and I had been prepping myself the last couple of weeks to end it yet again – hopefully for the last time. I needed to stop doing this to us, stop stringing him along – I loved the guy, and I didn't want to hurt him, but I was afraid that if we kept this cycle up, it would cost us our friendship.

Not this week, though. I could not pile anything more onto my plate right now. After the holiday I would deal, but right now I needed to focus everything I had on avoiding the aforementioned homicidal rampage.

As I started in Mike's direction, I made note of the person sitting across from him. We were meeting up with an old friend he hadn't seen in years. The guy happened to be in town on business, but he was headed back home early in the morning.

The guy in question, noticing Mike's preoccupation, turned in his seat and caught my eyes with his own, sparkling green ones. For a moment the chiselled, hardened features were quite striking, almost cold, but, as soon as he smiled in greeting, his entire demeanour softened and warmed – striking in a very different way.

"Hey, baby," Mike said, standing up. He leaned over and placed his lips against my own quickly before gesturing between myself and the stranger, who I noticed had also stood up as I approached. I was oddly intrigued.

"Edward, this is Bella. Bella, Edward."

The guy – Edward – offered his hand. I placed my own in his, noting immediately the warmth that radiated from his skin and feeling somewhat unnerved by the way his eyes bored into my own.

"A pleasure to meet you, Bella," he greeted, and the liquid flow of his voice served to calm any lingering nerves his intensity inspired.

"Same," I replied. He loosened his grip on my hand just enough so that I could ease my fingers out of his, in essence turning over the responsibility of ending the contact to me. Smooth operator.

I took my seat beside Mike as the guys sat back down. Turning to Edward, I said, "So, Mike tells me you were his wingman in high school."

Edward raised an eyebrow in amusement and slid his gaze over to my boyfriend. "Did he, now?" Mike merely shrugged. "That's not how I remember it."

I raised my eyebrows, intrigued. I knew everything there was to know about Mike the adult, but Mike the teenager was rather blurry. I turned to Edward and smiled mischievously. "Tell me more."


"I can't believe you guys actually did that!" I exclaimed, shaking my head.

"It's true," Edward grinned. I was sitting beside him on one side of the bar while Mike stood on the other, serving a customer and nodding along with his friend's assertion. It was far later than I had planned to stay, but, strangely enough, I was having a great time. Edward had ordered one last drink, and I offered to keep him company while Mike was otherwise occupied.

I turned to my best friend of six years. "How did I not hear about this?"

Mike thanked the customer for his tip, and turned back to us. "Because you, my dear Bella," he pointed his index finger at me in emphasis, "Do not appreciate the delicate art of the practical joke."

"Oh please," I rolled my eyes. "There is nothing delicate about your pranks."

"Ah," Edward said in understanding, leaning back on his stool. I couldn't help but notice how his shirt shifted and pulled against his torso, giving definition to the muscles hidden beneath. There was no denying this man was built. "I take it Mickster the Trickster hasn't retired his cape after all these years?"

My jaw dropped. I turned to Mike, who was suddenly very busy rearranging the bottles of alcohol behind the bar. "Mickster the Trickster?" I squeaked out, barely able to breathe for the silent peals of laughter wracking my body.

He ignored me and mock-glared at Edward. "Thanks, man."

Edward held up his hands in innocence. "Hey, I'm just the messenger."

"Yeah, yeah, whatever," Mike replied, turning away to address his latest patrons at the other end of the bar.

Once I regained control over my faculties, I turned back to Edward. "In answer to your question, no, he hasn't given it up. It's horrible when he and his friends go at it – like some feud that just escalates until it becomes World War III. Seriously, he plans these things with military precision."

He grinned. "Sounds vaguely familiar...."

"What about you?"


"Are you still King of the Pranksters?"

He chuckled. "Oh no, I left those days back in high school. I still appreciate a good practical joke now and then, but it just doesn't hold the same appeal."

I sighed and shook my head longingly. "If only your old partner in crime held the same sentiments."

He narrowed his eyes, a smirk forming on his lips. "You really don't enjoy pranks? At all?" I shook my head. "How the hell are you gonna survive tomorrow?"

I groaned and ducked my head. "Thanks for the reminder." He just shrugged, waiting for more. "Honestly?" He nodded. "Hiding and threats."

Edward burst out in laughter, and I couldn't help but giggle as well, despite how much I was dreading tomorrow. The first of April, better known as April Fool's Day – Mike's most favourite "holiday" of the year and yet another reason this end of month sucked even more than usual.

"Oh, come on," Mike said as he returned, catching the last of the conversation. "I'm not that bad to you, am I?"

I sighed loudly for effect. "No, I guess not." It was true, he did go extremely easy on me in comparison to others. Benefit of being the best friend – not only did he actually listen to me when I complained about his hobby, but I held more dirt on him than anyone. Or at least, I thought I did...Edward had been giving me a run for my money all night.

I didn't hold out much hope for tomorrow, though – it was the one day Mike couldn't pass up. He might not go full-out, but I was under no illusions that I would be spared completely from the madness.

Edward tipped back his glass and downed the last of his drink. "Well buddy, it's been great catching up, but I have to hop on a plane in a few hours, so I'll say goodnight."

Mike came around to our side of the bar, and he and Edward did that weird handshake-turned-one-arm-hug thing that guys do. "Good to see ya, man. Can't let it go so long next time."

"For sure. You've got my number." Edward turned to me. "Can I give you a ride somewhere?"

I shook my head. "No, I just live around the corner."

"You sure? I can at least walk with you, it's pretty late out."

I was about to politely decline, not wanting to be a bother, when Mike spoke up. "It's not a bad idea, Bella. You know this isn't the best neighbourhood."

The concern in his voice was enough for me to relent. "Okay, yeah. Thanks, Edward."

"No problem," he replied, and headed toward the exit.

Once outside in the chilly air, I led the way down the street. It really was a short walk, and we barely had time to exchange pleasantries before we arrived in front of my building.

"So, this is me," I said as I turned around to face him. "Thanks for the escort."

He grinned. "My pleasure. It was nice talking with you, maybe we'll meet again sometime down the line."

I nodded, elated at the thought. Edward seemed like a genuinely nice guy, and even though he lived on the other side of the country, it would be great if we could become friends. "Absolutely. You can find me through Mike's facebook page, if you have an account there."

"I do, but I don't really use it," he answered. "Guess I have an excuse now, though, huh?"

I smiled. "Guess so."

There was an awkward silence for several seconds, before Edward suddenly jerked his thumb back the way we had come. "So I'd better...."

"Yeah, right," I answered quickly, confused by my own behaviour. "So...have a safe trip."


More confusion ensued as I lifted my arms to give him a goodbye hug, while he stuck his hand out for a shake. We both paused for a long second, and then reversed, attempting to copy the other at the same time. We paused again, laughing at the awkwardness of it all, until finally he took a step toward me and we wrapped our arms loosely around one another.

"Goodnight," he murmured, pulling back.

"'Night," I replied, smiling once more before turning to my building. I unlocked it and stepped inside, noting as I closed the door that he waited until I had entered safely before walking away. I felt my cheeks warm at his attentiveness.

As I headed up the stairs to my apartment, I was resolved more than ever to have that talk with Mike.


The room was absolutely stifling.

It was well past midnight, and I was still awake. Despite the open window, I could feel the skin of my back dampening from gradual perspiration; the thermostat had been acting up all week, leaving the small space feeling like a tropical microclimate. The landlord had told me someone would be by to check on it "soon," which in all probability meant sometime after the holiday weekend. Just another headache to add to the pile this week.

I sat up in a fit of frustration and wrenched the shirt over my head, tossing it rather aggressively to the floor. I flung myself back on the bed, sighing in minute relief at the slight breeze that drifted across my bare chest. This was ridiculous.

Finally, after what seemed like an eternity, I could feel myself on the cusp of sleep. But just as I drifted toward unconsciousness, the creaking of floorboards dragged me right back. I opened my eyes and stared in the direction of my bedroom door, barely visible from the streetlight filtering in through the window.

There was someone standing in the doorway – tall, strong build, definitely male.

I pushed myself up on my elbows and peered into the darkness, trying to get a good look at the intruder. "Mike?" I called, hopeful. He had a key – it wouldn't be the first time he showed up in the middle of the night after finishing at the bar.

Even as I said it, though, I knew it wasn't him. I couldn't make out much of the figure from across the room, his face was hidden in shadow, but the outline was all wrong – standing too tall, shoulders too wide, and the strands of hair glinting in the faint light were too dark for my boyfriend's fair colouring.

And Mike would never just stand there, staring in the dark, completely immobile. Whoever it was, the predatory stance was unmistakable. I sat up straighter in defiance, despite the hammering of my heart in my chest. I'm sure he could hear it from across the room.

"Who are you?" I demanded, proud despite myself for the unwavering tone.

There was a long moment of silence. We stared each other down in the darkness.

Suddenly, without a word, he took one deliberate step forward, officially entering the room. It was followed by another, and another. Each step was calculated, perfectly timed, as he slowly but steadily made his way across the room, straight to where I cowered in fear. Whatever defiant stance I'd mustered moments before was shattered with every step he took. I wanted to hide under the covers, but I had kicked them to the side earlier in the night and I was currently too petrified to move.

He reached the foot of the bed. Stepping fully into a swath of light splashing in from the window, his identity was finally revealed. The chiselled features and the intense focus behind his eyes were exactly as they had been when he first looked at me. This time when the corners of his mouth upturned, however, there was no softening of the hard edges of his face, no warming of his comportment.

Edward smirked down at me as if he knew of my predatory analogy and wanted to play the part.

Suddenly, inexplicably, the fear left my body. My heart continued to slam in my chest and my body remained as tense as a piano wire, but the adrenaline fuelling those reactions had morphed from terror to that of anticipation.

In a tiny corner of my mind, a part of me was screaming that this was not right, pleading with my body to do something, to defy and defend, but that part was locked away. Instinctively, I knew that voice was right, just as I knew that it was insane to ignore it. But I did so, anyway.

I felt the mattress dip as he kneeled on the edge, keeping to the same measured pace as before. Not once did his eyes stray from mine. As he lifted himself fully onto the bed and began to advance on all fours, arms and legs on either side of my body, I became acutely aware of my state of undress. Clad only in my underwear, my normally modest self should have been mortified, but instead a thrill shot through me.

Once again I acknowledged the insanity and potential danger that was my lack of fear, and once again I ignored it. I dropped back down to my elbows while he advanced as far as he could over me, holding his body several inches above my own.

"What do you want?" My voice came as a whisper, but it held no hint of apprehension, only anticipation – and even though I had phrased it in the form of a question, I really needed no answer. He seemed to understand that, too, because he simply turned up the corners of his smirk a little more. I swallowed hard, feeling a flush of warmth flow throughout my veins and seemingly zero in right between my legs.

I was enveloped by the heat radiating from his body and his breath as it washed over me in the already-sweltering room; I felt beads of perspiration forming along the column of my neck. How long we remained in that position, so close but not touching, I could not say, but when he finally reached out to trace his fingers along the underside of my jaw, I nuzzled into his touch with relief. I never took my eyes off his, though – fearful of even blinking lest I miss one single moment of this most bizarre and thrillingly erotic encounter of my life.

His touch was light, delicate despite his determined demeanour. The pads of his fingers slid softly along my damp skin, mingling in the pools of moisture and dragging the wetness down my throat. Arriving at the base of my neck, he spread his thumb and forefinger wide in a V-shape so that either digit caressed the hollows of my clavicles. Laying the rest of his hand flat against my breastbone, he applied gentle but firm pressure, urging me to lay flat on the bed. I resisted momentarily, not wanting to be any further than the few inches that already separated us, but gave up almost immediately; I was inexplicably unable to deny this creature whatever he wanted.

The tiny voice in the back of my mind gave one more cry of protest, and then was silent. The smirk increased infinitesimally.

My breathing sped up as his fingers resumed their path of discovery along my skin, moving down the center of my chest. Repeatedly they marched, dancing up and down the valley between my breasts, never straying from their straight-lined path to where I desperately wanted them. His eyes burrowed into my own and I could almost see the amusement swimming there, mocking my predicament.

Finally, I could take no more, and reached for his spidery fingers. "I need..." gasping, I was unable to complete my thought as my fingers connected with his, igniting at the contact. Instead of pulling away, as any other shock might compel, I gripped his hand harder in mine and attempted to pull him toward an achingly erect nipple.

I had moved his hand no more than half an inch when he rotated his wrist and tried to pull his fingers from mine. What followed was an intricate choreography of defiance as we each sought – quite literally – to gain the upper hand, fingertips duelling with each other to take control. I held my own until he leaned forward, bringing his penetrating stare so close that our noses almost touched. His hand wrapped around mine securely, trapping it tightly beneath his chin, and I realized too late that I had never stood a chance – he'd held the upper hand the entire time.

He was playing with me. The thought alone sent a surge of wetness to pool between my thighs.

Desperate for more contact, I jerked my head up, intent on meeting his lips with mine, but he was too quick. He pulled back out of reach, bringing my hand with him, and I whimpered in frustrated desire. He shook his head from side to side slowly, that gorgeous and infuriating smirk never wavering. I felt pressure on my hand, and complied willingly when he guided it back down.

I whimpered again – this time in relief – as my own palm made contact with my highly sensitized nipple, my back arching and my hips grinding into the mattress in response. He gently nudged my hand back and forth, encouraging me to fondle my own breast, before dragging his hand back to the center of my chest, laying his palm flat against my sternum with fingers splayed. His thumb made slight, absent strokes across my skin. I continued to touch myself, grazing and rolling and working the flesh as much as I could take. I used only one hand – my other remained at my side, fisted tightly into the linens in an attempt to cope with the incredible tension that was building in my body. Soft gasps escaped my lips as each lancing spark of need shot from tit to clit.

Finally, my other breast demanded its share of attention, and I scrambled my fingers across my chest. My hand palmed my neglected breast in momentary relief just as the edge of my forearm, now slung across my chest, grazed the other nipple.

The dual sensations were too much, and a moan ripped from my throat as my eyes rolled up in my head. For the first time since he stepped into my bedroom, my eyes were torn from Edward's.

Recovering from the initial onslaught of sensation, my eyes fluttered open and sought his once more, instinctively drawn to him. In the small part of my mind that could still process rational thought, I anticipated the ever-present smirk would be multiplied ten-fold as a result of my momentary loss of control. I was caught off-guard, however, by what I saw.

The predatory aura was still there, but the smirk had morphed into a genuine smile, immediately softening his features and giving me a glimpse of the man I had spent the evening getting to know. The change was subtle and yet so poignant. My breath caught in my throat.

He began to withdraw further down my body, slowly but steadily dragging his hand across my abdomen. I angled my neck to ensure I did not lose contact with his eyes again, determined not to miss any further changes to his beautiful face. When he reached just below my navel, he stopped and quirked an eyebrow in question.

I nodded vigorously, frantically. "Please, yes..." The desperation was clear in my breathy voice, but I was beyond caring. Need fuelled my every reaction.

It seemed to take him a lifetime to act, but, when he finally did, he moved with a speed that far surpassed any action he had taken since his arrival. His hand delved beneath the elastic of my panties and immediately cupped my sex, teasing the outer lips. I let out a pathetic sound, a cross between a whimper and a moan, and ground myself into his hand, seeking his touch where I needed it most. I was frustrated, but not surprised, when he failed to acquiesce.

This was his game, and I was under no illusions as to who was calling the shots.

My own hand kept up the assault on my breasts, attempting to alleviate the devastating need I could feel building. All it really did was increase my desperation, but I was too far gone to realize. I needed more sensation, more friction, more pressure, more...anything.

"Pl-please...I need..." I begged, shakily.

His hand stilled. I cried out in disbelief, imploring with my eyes why he was torturing me. I was about to demand he continue when the smirk reappeared.

Before I had a chance to wonder at the sudden reversion, his fingers slipped past my outer lips and ran the entire length of my pussy, ghosting over my entrance and sliding up to enthusiastically attack my clitoris, rubbing and flicking and rolling me into a frenzy of desire. A high-pitched moan, in an octave I didn't even know I was capable of, was ripped from my throat.

He was relentless. His slick fingers, coated in my arousal, played me like a master. He never faltered – it was if he were able to read my responses to an action before he ever performed it, and chose the path that would elicit the most amazing sensations from my swollen flesh. The pressure between my legs increased steadily, and I began to writhe on the bed, digging my ass further into the mattress and grinding into his hand, desperate for something more.

I was on the verge of begging him to give me that something more when he took it upon himself. His fingers trailed down through the fresh wetness that coated my pussy, and different parts of me simultaneously relaxed and tensed at the knowledge of his destination.

He massaged my entrance thoroughly but went no further, and I concluded that he was teasing me yet again. Finally, I snapped.

"Please...Edward, please," I urged, my voice shuddering as I struggled to take in a breath. "I can't...please, just touch m--"

The intense pleasure that flooded my system as his fingers finally slipped inside was so powerful that I feared I would draw blood from the lip clenched between my teeth. His rhythm alternated between fast and slow, and when he angled his thumb up and pressed against my clit in tandem with his strokes, the battle to maintain eye contact was lost. I let loose a strangled sob and pleaded with him and with any deity who would listen for more – I was so close....

His fingers curled up inside of me, unrelenting in their assault on my sweet spot, and within moments I felt my muscles contracting around him as my orgasm slammed home. Wave after wave of blinding, white-hot ecstasy crashed through my body.

"Oh, my...uhn...yes, Edward...!"

I arched up off the bed, my eyes locking with his for a final, incredible moment before collapsing, boneless and spent.


Individual sensations returned to me slowly, gently unravelling away from the overwhelming mass that was one of the most intense orgasms of my life. It seemed impossible that such a response was pulled from my body with the aid of only his fingers...the fingers of one hand. The thought of what he could accomplish with mouth and his cock was almost too much to contemplate.

In my post-orgasmic high, I could just barely make out a voice.

Finally, he speaks!

I could not yet make out the words – it was as if I were hearing him underwater – but slowly he was becoming clearer. I breathed deeply, relaxing the muscles in my neck and allowing my eyes to flutter open. Suddenly, I realized two things. One, the voice sounded different – very familiar, but it did not match with what I remembered from our conversation at the bar. Two, as my vision began to clear and I could once again see the amazing, talented man hovering over me – his piercing gaze as intense as ever and his fingers continuing to stroke me in soft, gentle passes – I noticed that his lips did not move. The voice was not coming from him.

Finally, I managed to make out what the disembodied voice was saying.

"Bella, what the fuck?!"

As I gazed at Edward in confusion, I noticed something else. The intense, blinding white light that overloaded my senses as I came had not fully dissipated as I regained control of my body. I realized belatedly that the overhead light in my bedroom had been turned on.

With that realization, the smirking vision of a man kneeling over my lower half with his hand buried in my panties suddenly began to disperse, like a million tiny dust particles caught in a beam of sunlight. My body cried out in protest at the desertion, even as I registered the persistent sensation of fingers softly caressing between my legs.

A dream. That was the only explanation. I was saddened but relieved at the same time. It explained how I had so easily given in to him – my subconscious knew it hadn't been real.

Upon such revelation, my mind returned the room around me with a jolt. The bedroom light was indeed on, and it took me only a few seconds to figure out why: Mike was standing in the threshold, staring.

And he was livid.

"Mike?" I asked, the confusion evident in my voice.

Instead of answering, he turned on his heel and stomped down the hallway, out of sight. I started to get up, intent on figuring out just what the hell was wrong, when my current predicament finally registered.

I was lying in bed, topless, with my hand shoved down my underwear. The unmistakable evidence of my activities was glistening on my thighs. I was somewhat embarrassed that a dream had led to such an intense masturbatory session without my even realizing it, but I still couldn't figure out what had set Mike off like that. It wasn't like he hadn't seen it all before, and wasn't that supposed to be every guy's wet dream, anyway? To watch a girl –

Oh, shit...

My penchant for talking in my sleep was no secret. I didn't know exactly how long he'd been standing there, but Mike had apparently just witnessed me getting myself off while crying out another man's name.


I scrambled off the bed and hurried to my door, grabbing a robe off the chair to wrap around myself – this was definitely not a conversation to be had while practically naked.

I rushed down the hall and into the living room where my boyfriend was pacing, shaking his head in anger.

"Mike..." I started to say, wanting to explain, but I was lost for words. How was I supposed to explain what just happened? I didn't even understand it myself. Guilt and cowardice pressed me to look anywhere but at him.

In my avoidance-induced perusal of the room, my eyes were drawn to a bouquet of helium balloons on the coffee table that, of all things, said "April Fool's!" They most definitely had not been there when I went to bed earlier in the night. Beside them I noticed a few plastic bags filled with odds and ends, and suddenly Mike's presence was explained – for whatever torture he'd planned to inflict on me, he had snuck into my apartment after his shift to set it up.

"What the hell was that, huh?" he demanded.

"I...I don't..." Again, words failed me.


As I scrambled for an answer, I glanced back at the balloons. Later on I would realize that it was quite possibly the stupidest thing to say, but for the moment my sleep-addled, post-orgasmic brain thought it was an absolutely brilliant idea.

I looked at Mike with what I hoped was an apologetic, hopeful half-smile. "I, um...April Fool's?"

He stared at me, mouth agape. After a couple seconds his jaw snapped shut, and I saw the tense, corded muscles of his neck twitch. He stood there for a few seconds more and then abruptly stormed to the front door, wrenched it open, and slammed it shut behind him.

Fuck. Just when I thought this week couldn't get any worse.

If you made it this far, I hope you enjoyed it! Reviews and constructive critism are always appreciated - as I stated at the outset, this is my first attempt beyond the T/PG-13 rating, so I'm always up for tips to improve. It's been awhile since I've managed to write much of anything - let alone finish anything - but I'm hopeful that this Countdown entry will inspire me to get back into fanfic writing.