Well, since I've read and reviewed almost every story in this category it seems, it's about time I submitted something of my own. This is my first fanfiction, and of course, I would be far beyond grateful for reviews. I got this idea in an actual abandoned tennis court near my house, and thought it would be nice to change up where the OC encounters Edward, having him in a bit more perilous a situation then just hanging out in the castle. Also, Lorelei's situation...dealing with the grief of her mother's passing...is exactly my own at the moment. There's more than a few elements of me in her. So if at any moment I become to weird with my description of her feelings, or if I turn out to be a (gasp) Mary Sue after all, just let me know, and I'll tone down the me-ness. Now- on with the story!

Chapter one: Ragged Shadows

"Lithium...don't wanna lock me up inside. Lithium...don't wanna forget how it feels without, Lithium...don't wanna stay in love with my sorrow. But God, I want to let it go."

A bird broke free of the foliage on her left as she hummed the last line, dropping her voice below the audible barrier of the evening wind. The breeze was a welcome retreat from the lukewarm day, humid but cool lake air that brought goosebumps to her skin. Humming Evanescence on the concrete pathway, her high-top black boots crunching the aged gravel, Lorelei Halcomb felt herself sink into the beauty of the enveloping night.

This was what she needed. What she had needed all that tired, crippling day, week and month: this silence. This breeze. She closed her eyes for a moment and drank it in. The distant sound of night birds, the moonlight, the rustling of the trees above her. Still, she hadn't reached any destination, so she carried on, walking slowly and reverently and humming snatches of the songs that were her soul's fuel as the mesh fence came in sight.

At the base of it she stopped, brown eyes quickly darting around as if she were about to commit some heinous crime. She then glanced down at her clothes: jeans, a T-shirt, black lacy scarf and her large black hat. Not very convenient for climbing, but she hadn't, actually, planned on this when leaving the house that night. Really she had just meant to walk, breathe in some air that hadn't filtered through her room dozen times already. Sort out her feelings, and perhaps soothe this distant ache that wouldn't seem to go away.

Dad would understand even if she couldn't tell him, she knew. Because Dad felt it too. She saw it in his eyes every time a song she had liked would come on. Every time Lorelei mentioned doing something she had liked doing. Every time they began to enjoy life again. That familiar emptiness that marked the hole where his love and Lorelei's mother had been so suddenly ripped from the fabric of their beings.

The teenager took off her shoes, unlacing them and putting her socks inside before throwing them over the fence to hear them 'thud' the ground on the opposite side. It had been nearly six months, and life had dulled back into the hum-drum existence that was normalcy. Not the same normal, but an acceptable one. Her father had gotten a promotion, and was now far happier with what he was doing. Her 19-year-old half-brother had moved in with them. She'd finished another year of her homeschool co-op without going ballistic on any of the snobby rich teens there. She had almost been happy again: not just in irregular spasms of joy when she was given something to distract her, but on a daily basis: comfortable with her life. It was when she had realized that this was it: all there was, when this feeling had started. The constant dull hurt that was loneliness.

Her mother had been her everything. Her teacher, her best friend, her opposite. She had nurtured her interests, steered her on the right path. And when she was gone: suddenly struck down by a heart attack at a young age, it was like she had been violently snatched from childhood and shoved into the real world. And it hurt, in more places then people realized. She wasn't the kind of person who showed her feelings to others though: unlike her father who could express his angry, mournful musing clearly and have the whole world sympathizing for him, she was the quiet type. Only days after the incident she had appeared to be happy and normal again, spending time with relatives in town for the funeral, organizing a surprise party for her little sister. People wondered whether she was in denial or shock, or perhaps even at what her relationship with her mother had been like, and that had probably the second most painful part of it all.

The slightly rusted fencing jingled merrily as her toes entwined with it, and she let out a small grunt as she pulled herself into a comfortable climbing position. Things were better now. Time healed the jarring hole and life's inevitability smoothed over most scars. She had learned to be strong for her four little sisters, her father, her grandparents who had taken them in. A million people gave them whatever they needed: money, new clothes, the offer to help school, feed and care for them. But none of them would or could offer what Lorelei needed the most: her mother's companionship. Her selfless, wise advice. Her non-judgmental guidance. An escape from her loneliness.

The place she was breaking into...well, she'd rather think of it as trespassing, if anything illegal...was an old tennis court about a mile from her house. In what used to be a tourist vacation spot compete with all sorts of activities, the rec- room was now a rotting corpse overgrown with weeds, and the whole thing had been swallowed by the woods on the outskirts of a camping park. This court, however, was still accessible by a little paved road that her father and her had recently discovered, deeming it a wonderful thing to do on the weekends, despite the fact neither of them played tennis. Why she had been drawn here, walking at eight o'clock to wait on a late dinner, she had no idea as her bare feet made contact with the cracked surface of crushed shale. Why the sudden resolve to trespass on city property, something she had never made a habit of before, she didn't understand either. She hummed some more songs, wandering to the center the spacious four-court area, it's tree-shaded corners fading into darkness like the edges of an old photograph.

In the middle she stopped, both singing and walking: face turned upwards towards the moonlight, and put her hands in the pockets of her jacket. It was an eerily lovely scene, but anti-climatic. She had nothing for the sighing wind, no story for the nightbirds to carry on. She wasn't in love with anyone, or facing any great decision or suffering some great heartache. She had only this secret tragedy to mar what would otherwise be perfect peace.

Snip.

The first time, she disregarded it. It was soft, contained. Probably a power line or a small animal brushing past the fence.

Snip, snip.

She whirled, eyes wide. This was a manual sound made by something inside the fence. Her roving gaze found the concealed far corner. Her skin crawled, breath suddenly becoming shallow as her mind ran through all the possible scenarios of who it could be, none of which ended happily for her. She took a step backwards, and froze as the sound increased in both speed and volume, approaching.

A figure began to emerge from the shade, absolutely indistinguishable from the blackness except for it's movement and basic outline.

It was a man, she saw. A man with knives. Lots of them.

Her heart beat in her ears, threatening to drown out her ability to think clearly. Out of the corner of her eye she saw her shoes, and for some reason all she could think was that they were going to be left here tonight. Found by someone tomorrow morning, when they began to look for her.

The figure was by this time only about five yards away from her, standing at the edge of where shadow met moonlight as though unsure about whether to show himself.

There was a long moment of stillness. Lorelei swallowed hard. Practicality struggling for control, trying to think of what the best approach would be.

"Hi." Her voice finally choked, the one syllable ringing small in the stillness. It was an odd thing to say, considering the circumstances, but perhaps the best. If it were simply another vandal like herself, perhaps they could let each other go their own ways. If it were a drug dealer...perhaps he would assume she hadn't seen anything, and let her go. If were a murderer...the most likely option...it didn't really matter what she said.

"Hi." Mimicked the figure softly. The voice was that of a boy: not quite a man, but certainly as old as Lorelei if not older. He sounded unsure, timid almost. Inwardly she began to wonder if this weren't all a dream, it was so absolutely unnatural.

Her breathing was still heavy, heart beating out a samba as she made more words tumble from her mouth. "You scared me. What are you...doing here?" Her voice was as un-accusing as she could possibly make it as she asked the question, hoping to buy herself some time to think if nothing else.

There was no answer to this, but the knives began to make their clicking sound again, and Lorelei felt her blood run cold. She was going to die here. She shook her head, desperate to break the tension.

"Who are you?" She inquired softly.

"M-my name is...Edward." Replied the voice, faltering timidly, like a child who has just been taught to introduce himself.

It had a name now, and it's voice was far from threatening. Lorelei closed her eyes, sucking in a deep breath for support. "What are you doing with the knives?" She asked, voice beginning to shake despite her best effort.

There was half a moment of tautness, and then instead of answering, the man...creature...Edward...stepped into the full view of the moonlight.

"Oh..my..God..." Lorelei jumped back, panic suddenly filling her senses.

The first thing she saw was them. Because they were glinting the moonlight. Knives—fingers, shaped like knives, twitching and snipping nervously. The longest of them must have been eight inches, at least. They looked, from her limited view, razor sharp. Belonging to them was a gaunt body, clad in a suit of leather and buckles, and other assortments of metal. The shoulders were somewhat hunched, the hands held in front as though there were heavy chains shackled on at the wrists. Her eyes continued to travel upwards, and found a face: pale white against the black, with piles of ebony hair in twisted shapes surrounding it. It was young, maybe seventeen.

They looked at each other in the moonlight. Black onyx eyes engulfing her simple, frightened brown ones. To Lorelei, it was like looking through a window into a separate universe, eternally darkness and sadness but behind all that...beauty. She had never been this terrified in her life, but somehow, somewhere inside, she was strangely calm.

Finally, she blinked. Something shattered, and she pulled back into herself, losing her balance and clanging her back against the fence as she did so. The boy moved forward as though to help her and she slid to the ground and put an arm out, prepared to meet her end. But he had stopped moving, and was staring at her in concern.

"Are you OK?" He asked finally.

"Am I...?" She stood cautiously, backing as far against the wall as possible and regaining her courage. "Look," She started, motioning to the metallic hands. "I don't know what those things are or what you're doing with them. I don't even care. But they really freak me out, so how about taking them off now?"

The stranger looked from her to his hands, and back again, confusion written in the lines of his scarred face.

"I can't." He said simply, almost...mournfully.

"What do you mean?"

"I'm not finished."

"You..." She stared at the hands extended dolefully towards her more closely, eyes growing wide as saucer plates. They were not gloves. Where there ought to be flesh and bone metal interlaced with metal, support wires and the ends of ball-pointed scissors. "Those are your hands?" She asked.

He nodded, not meeting her eyes.

"Well...what...how did they get like that? Did you have them...made that way on purpose?" She doubted that was legal, but then again, some teenagers did crazy things to themselves.

But again the raven black hair shook out a negative answer.

"Then how?" There was no answer. He continued to stare at his black-booted feet, scissors snipping nervously at his sides.

Lorelei swallowed, finally unafraid. "I-I'm sorry. I didn't know. I was just scared, you know, when you see a guy in the shadows who looks like he's got a load of knives on him. I didn't mean to be rude." She divulged quickly, feeling suddenly ashamed at her lack of tact. "My name is Lorelei. You said yours was..."

"Edward." Replied the boy quickly, still without raising his head.

"Edward. Do you live around here?"

In response he lifted his shaggy head up, and looking around, pointed one freakishly long shiny finger towards the dilapidated abandoned wreck room, barely visible through the vines that overwhelmed it.

"You live there? Since when?"

"Yesterday."

"And where did you live before that?"

"The mansion." He pointed another scissor-finger behind her, in the direction of her neighborhood. Mentally she tried to recall all the large houses in the area, and the families that occupied them. Then suddenly it hit her.

"You mean the one on the hill? The abandoned castle?" He nodded. Lorelei let out a breath of disbelief. "Everyone said that place was haunted." No reply. "Well...why did you leave?"

Scissors slash against each other in discomfort at the question, but finally he meets her eyes again. "There were people there."

She furrowed her brow in confusion, wondering who would occupy the crumbling building the city had been brooding over for years. Suddenly she remembered a news article about a refurbishing project that had been proposed for the old place. How it was going to be redone and turned into a memorial to someone or other, some inventor.

"Did you live up there alone?"

Edward nodded.

"Don't you have any family or friends you can stay with?"

"No." He said simply, voice only barely doleful.

Lorelei swallowed. She didn't know what to say to this boy, whoever he really was. She felt as though she were falling for a prank. She'd been out for half an hour at least, on what was supposed to be a short walk, and her dad would be wondering by this time.

"Uhm. Well, Edward...I'm sorry. I really am, about all that. I...have to go now." There was no reply from the dark boy. She turned back to survey the fence that she had backed against, mentally disliking the idea of climbing back over it with her back to him, despite the fact that she no longer felt threatened. She turned back from examining it to find Edward approaching her, her boots held clumsily balanced on his hands.

"Oh...thanks." She said, flashing a small nervous smile and reached out...hand shaking...to retrieve them. She watched his face, mesmerized again for a moment, as the tiniest ghost of a smile played around his outlandish features.

She felt as though she ought to say something. She did for sorry for this strange kid, even if she could hardly bring herself to believe she was seeing him. "Well...it was nice to meet you-Edward. Maybe I'll see you again sometime."

"Really?" Hope rose in his boyish voice, an odd tone, and those huge brown eyes lit up. Wow, he must be lonely. She thought.

"Yeah. Maybe sometime. I don't live that far away." She replied, smiling more confidently at him. There was a moment of silence where both studied each other in the moonlight once again, eyes probing, both entirely unsure that the other was real.

"I can show you another way out if you want." Said Edward suddenly. And to prove it he turned, and quickly headed over to the dark far corner he had been in originally. Lorelei followed cautiously, noticing the way his skintight leather suit jingled slightly when he walked and his black hair bounced. It was almost comical. In the corner where the fencing met the pole, part of it had come undone and a good portion was loose enough to squeeze through out into the vines on the other side. Edward held it open for her expectantly, even as she knelt to pull her shoes back on. When she was done, she walked forward, her legs beginning to tremble even as she came close to the razor-sharp hands that held open her escape route. When she was safely on the other side she turned, taking a mental snapshot of him once again just to assure herself he was real. In the darkness he was barely visible, body and hair blending with the shadows so that only the milky white skin of his face and his sparkling brown eyes stood out.

"Thank you." She said, voice suddenly as shaky as it had been when she had first found it to speak to him.

"You're welcome." He said simply, slowly lowering the fence back into place. It clanged shut like a cage.

Lorelei sucked her lip, still somehow unable to tear herself away from the unfortunate figure.

"I'll see you really soon Edward." She said suddenly, making a mental promise to herself as she did so. Then with a final resolve she turned and stalked away towards home without allowing herself a glance backwards.

And Edward watched until she was out of sight, hoping to whatever angels would listen that the girl with the short hair would become a friend of some sort. He needed one more than anything right now.