Ugh, that took so LONG! Of course, I made ridiculous promises to update within a week's time just before taking an almost three-week absence. But, my dears, as you know, inspiration is fickle and laziness is a hard cruel master. Not to mention, my dad's been all over me about spending more time with the family lately. So. Chapter four is here, written very distractedly piece by piece over a busy, busy few weeks. In many ways, I ask for your patience, considering the long wait and the fact that this chapter is not the best. Chapter five is already halfway written, so hopefully it should take less time, and I expect (read: hope) it will be more exciting. Three reminders before I begin thanking my awesome reviewers: 1. I do not own Johnny Depp, Edward Scissorhands, Kim, Jim, an Iphone, or a severed toe. Some of those things I admit I would like more than others, but the point remains that none of them are actually mine. 2. Lorelei is not me. I can't really stress how not-me she has become, but it's weird. So don't get the two mixed up, please. ;-) 3. I just want to apologize for all the grammatical errors I noticed in the last three chapters I recently re-read. Really, you guys should have flamed me. I have spell-check on two document pads, and on here, and I re-read twice always, and yet somehow I still manage to miss annoying little things constantly, and they really mess up the feel of a story. Once again, sorry about that. On to reviews!

Luminous Faith: Actually, thank you for writing a long winded message! It gives me something long winded to respond to! And as anyone who's reading this has obviously figured out by now, there's nothing I love more than being long winded. ;-) Firstly, thank you for suggesting songs! I'm not going to blame anyone for not doing that, it's wonderful enough to have you reviewing and reading at all, but I really appreciate it. I agree with the first (although I wouldn't change those gorgeous eyes of his to save my life) And I am much looking forward to listening to the other. Secondly, you made me get all nervous a little there with what you said even though it was very true to what I think. So for you I have this special little disclaimer that applies to this chapter: don't assume to much just yet. I 'ermed' and 'awed' over writing what I did because I was afraid it would sound like exactly like what you're warning me against, but I know where I want this to go now and I intend to take my time getting there. In a nutshell: don't buy into it too much, it's all part of my evil plan. I think. Keep reading and I will gladly glomp you back.

Thirdly: just, thank you! Edward is an intensely difficult character to write, and it's really amazing when someone appreciates the effort. It's an art of getting into his mind, without having him speak it. Augh, that boy. But we do love him. :-) OK, now I really have written a book.

SmackersPink: Aww shucks! Thanks for that. :-) Happy to see you're on board!

Starxx: Hugs Once again, super thanks! I can always depend on you to be specific with your reviews, and the fact that you like it still makes me all happy inside.

miss. twighlightprincess: Once again, my gratitude for you're patronage. hands over bag of gratitude Enjoy!

And also, I would like to thank all the people who lit up my email (and consequently, my day) by adding this story to their alerts or favorites. Even though you didn't review, it told me you were reading and gave me the kick I needed to get out of my funk and write more, and I really appreciate it. Thank you. :-)


CHAPTER FOUR: Shelter

"Can't help myself but count the flaws,

Claw my way out through these walls.

One temporary escape,

Feel it start to permeate.

We lie beneath the stars at night,

Our hands gripping each other tight.

You keep my secrets hope to die,

Promises, swear them to the sky." - Young Blood, The Naked and Famous.

Dawn broke Friday morning, and turning over on her mattress, Lorelei opened sleepy brown eyes to the sun. The three-day weekend, God bless it, tended to start like every other weekday for her, and that was the only downfall to Summer.

Her room, previously simply an array of junk and of clashing colors: purple walls with bright red and yellow band posters, carpet littered with stacks of old records, vintage furniture pieces and old useless electronics shoved on display against the wall, along with several full book shelves...she was quite a reader, when she had the time...were now barely visible through the snow.

Eternal paper snow, hanging from the ceiling around her bed like shredded curtains, falling just above the head and constantly twirling with the slight wind of her ceiling fan. Warm satisfaction grew in her at the beauty of it in the morning sunlight.

During the past week, she'd been with Edward every day. It was hard, getting to really know a boy who kept the 'speak when spoken to' rule with religious conviction, but around her, day after day of being the only person he had spoken too in years, Edward had begun the slightest bit to open up. Almost. It was still like conversing with someone in Morse code.

She knew now some of the 'childhood' he had shared with his elderly father. That, although he hadn't quite phrased it that way, true to character the only knowledge Edward really had of the outside world came from old books. That was, at least, before he'd been caught by the benevolent side of society and pushed into the fore-front of of it's hatred. He was brief on the subject, but Lorelei could fill in the rest: speaking of a kind family called "The Boggs" who had taken him in, of their matron 'Peg' who he spoke of in almost exactly the way she would think that an adopted boy would his mother, and of their daughter Kim.

He couldn't seem to ever find words to talk about this 'Kim.' It made her hurt for him just to watch him try. His dark clear eyes would fill with something beyond her, and it was obvious he had been in love. She didn't know what happened, and she couldn't bring herself to ask. Just as he never asked about her mother.

Breakfast was full under way for her little sisters downstairs, when she made her appearance. Messenger bag already over her shoulder.

"Oh my gosh! Stop the presses! Look who's up before twelve!" Kidded her twelve-year old sister.

"And dressed too." Said her grandmother, today's assigned helper, skeptically. "Where are you off to so early?"

"Thought I'd take a walk before it starts sweltering." She grabbed a cereal bowl and poured herself some, hoping she sounded and looked casual. In the past week, she had become an expert at lying without really lying.

"Where to?" Asked her 'gram' quizzically.

"The civic center." She said around a mouthful. "Maybe I'll go to the store too." She added vaguely.

At the mention of the store there was an instant chorus of 'Can I come?''s to contend with from her sisters. She ignored them all with a firm shake of the head.

"Stay out of my room!" She called to one of them who was heading up the stairs.

"Your father tells me you take one every day." Gram continued nonchalantly. The old woman was proverbially wise, and generally understanding, although as a member of the senior crowd she was perpetually under the impression all teens were either depressed or severely immature. Lorelei was an obvious candidate for the former of the two.

"It's my alone time." Parried the teenager, as she flipped through a magazine that had been left on the table to soak in someone's discarded orange juice. She wondered if Edward might like it.

A speculative nod from her grandmother. "Well, if you do run by the store, grab some light-bulbs please."


She did end up running by the store. There was no good excuse around her grandmother and little sisters to stuff a duffel bag full of food right after breakfast, so she ended up spending her extravagant allowance for the first time in months...on fruit.

Apples, oranges...and a couple doughnuts, she figured he'd like a treat, were unloaded on the court floor for her new friend. He waited there for her in the mornings now, sitting in the shade, even during the two days when it had rained. It had been hard to decide whether to laugh or scold him, when she found him hunched in the corner, metal hands on his knees and black leather dripping with water. She had done neither.

"Edward, what am I gonna do with you?" She had simply asked him. It struck her the minute she had the words left her lips, how many time she had heard her mother saying the exact same thing to her father. Edward had raised his shaggy, dripping head with a pale boyish face, looking at once confused and bereaved. In that moment she'd been gripped with the sudden urge to put her arms around him. An odd random thought, it had come and gone in a flash, drowned out by the dripping rain on her umbrella, only to haunt her again that night.

This morning he was standing at the far corner fence, snipping the bits that stuck through the bars absentmindedly. He smiled at her, as he always did, and muttered a greeting in return to hers.

Lorelei perched on the rusting metal ball-can, her usual seat, and played with her various bracelets as she talked and Edward dined skillfully.

"...He's been looking at rentals over in Sail Creek. Under where you used to live. I just don't get it. He's sacred about some things...like, her sewing table. He won't move that, won't even let me clean it. And now he acts like he wants to move."

"Do...you want to move?"

She hadn't even known she had had his attention, as he asked a rare question. She shook her head.

"No. I don't. And especially not to the suburbs. I don't really think that Dad does either. I think maybe he just wants distraction, but I don't know. We're really very different. Sometimes I just don't get him at all."

Edward seemed to be digesting the new information, and went back to gently slicing his apple thoughtfully.

"Oh, I forgot to mention. I won't be here to bring you dinner tonight, so I'll have to leave it with you at lunchtime." She remembered out loud all of a sudden. Again Edward's inquisitive gaze met her eyes.

"Why?"

"Some of my friends have arranged me a date." She said with more than a little contempt.

"A date?"

She nodded thoughtlessly, before realizing what he meant. He didn't know what a date was.

"A date is..." She took a breath, trying to remember how she had explained it to the youngest of her sisters. "A date is where two people, around the same age, people who like to be with each other, go out and do things together, so that they can get to know one another."

He blinked owlishly at her, taking the explanation in for long awhile. "Are...are we on a...date?" He asked finally, struggling with the words.

She hadn't expected that as a follow-up question. Lorelei folded her lip humorously. "Well, no not exactly...no." She faltered for words, suppressing a chuckle. "The two people...who go out together...they have to know it's a date before hand. And also...people go on dates to get to know one another, to see whether they want to be romantically involved together." She swallowed somewhat painfully. "Like boyfriend and girlfriend."

Edward nodded. He knew what boyfriend and girlfriend were for sure. He had even known Kim and Jim to go on 'dates', but he had never been quite clear what they were, nor brave enough to ask.

"Who are you going on a date with?" He asked finally.

"Just some guy my friend dug up for me. I've never met him."

Silence again.

"As a matter-of-fact, his name is Jim."

She glanced to find that at this, Edward's eyes had shot up to meet hers. There was something searching in them that to Lorelei, who had been with him every day for a week, was completely foreign. He looked almost...afraid, or even...angry, far off in the depths of those fathomless brown orbs. She had thought him absolutely incapable of anger.

He had spoken very, very briefly of Kim's boyfriend who went by that name, really giving nothing beyond the fact of his existence when Lorelei had been inquiring about her. But now, it was obvious there was more to the story, and that she had said something wrong.

Edward alluded to nothing however, simply staring into her eyes like a frightened animal for a second that seemed an hour, before realizing himself. The oddly hurt gaze crinkled back into her shy-eyed Edward, and he timidly resumed breakfast without so much as a passing comment, as an uncomfortable silence settled over the two friends.

The heels of her combat boots crashing against the metal can, Lorelei looked desperately for something to break it.

She coughed. "Edward, I meant to bring a comb for you today, but I completely forgot." She said lamely.

Edward made no comment, but gave her his attention just as always.

"I thought maybe I could comb your hair out a little, it can't be very comfortable like that." No reply, as he was occupied with half-heartedly peeling an apple. She had never seen him peel one before. For once, she was the one that felt nervous and out of words. It wasn't that he wasn't talking much...as though he ever did...it was the way he wasn't talking. She shook her head in odd exasperation.

"Do you cut your own hair?" She asked a minute later.

"Sometimes." He said habitually. It was one of the three comfortable one-word answers he used in most situations. Lorelei frowned. This was getting her no where.

"How about cutting mine?" She offered testily. It did the trick.

Setting down the apple, any unintentional indifference quickly replaced with his usual childlike eagerness at the prospect of creating something new, he rose and proceeded to wordlessly concentrate on surveying her head of short hair. It was growing back to half-shoulder length, purple fading to brown over darker undertones. What was left of the bangs were long and hung down to frame her slightly mousy face.

Painstakingly gently Edward used one long finger of his hand to flick some of it to the side. Lorelei's skin crawled at the near-contact, and she shut her eyes and braced her teeth to keep herself from flinching as he made the first snip.

It was even and experimental, the piece of oddly colored hair drifting silently down by her feet, and Edward glanced at her as if to ask if she were sure. Sensing his gaze on her, she opened one tightly clenched eye and smiled at him. And quickly shut it again as he went to work full-speed.

Edward had talked in passing of his former skills and near-occupation as a barber. It was one of his favorites parts of his story, when he had to tell it. He didn't wallow in the self-pity of what had happened, or tirade angrily about his mistreatment. But he did like to remember with fondness a time in which his talents and company had been valued. Lorelei knew now how a town full of bored people, too shallow to see his personality, could have become smitten with him. Having your hair cut by Edward was an experience like no other.

She'd never imagined life from the viewpoint of the paper, the many times she'd watched him cut it. The inexplicably calming rhythm of the blades whirring around her along with small bits and pieces of her hair, coupled with the chill on her neck from the sensation of the blades less than inches from her unprotected skin caused her adrenalin to rush as though she were on a carnival ride. She attempted to open her eyes, only for reflexes to close them for her. Nothing about this was safe, but somehow she didn't feel as though she were in danger one bit. For a boy as clumsy as Edward, nothing ever marred the subject of his creativity.

The soft sound of her name called her into reality again in a few minutes that didn't last long enough. Edward's hands still snipped compulsively, whether with left over nervous energy or because he was unsure what her reaction to his hair-cutting job would be, she didn't know. Hopping down from her perch, she felt the unmistakable lightness of the back of her neck, and found herself standing in her own purple locks that were scattered on the ground. A hand groped her head, feeling unfamiliar angles and spikes, cut so that they fell perfectly around her ears and forehead.

There was no mirror to truly survey herself in, and even though she was grinning like an idiot, she was unable to tell Edward anything he hadn't heard her say about his work before.

"What do you think?" She asked him, an uncharacteristically girlish tone in rising in her voice.

Edward looked twice as nervous as before, at the question. She realized she had put him on the spot. He wasn't going to complement his own work.

"Nevermind." She said quickly. "I want to see for myself."

She checked the time, and had to suppress a curse word. Somehow, she'd been out an hour already.

"You have to go?" Guessed Edward.

"Aye." She grumbled. "I've been out here way too long."

She glanced at him, and was discouraged to find that he still looked oddly despondent.

Moving with a sudden impulse, she grabbed Edward's arm as close to the hand as possible. He tensed up, but for once, didn't jump back at the physical contact. She squeezed it comfortingly, unsure how else to embrace him without putting herself and him at risk of harm.

"Edward, I want to thank you." She said sincerely, voice becoming unsure as she said words that didn't come close to saying what she wanted them too. "Honestly, I'd much rather be here with you tonight."

Edward swallowed, his throat suddenly very dry. "Thank you." He said, at a loss for words.

She smiled weakly at him, trying and failing yet again to hold eye contact with his deep, questioning brown orbs, before quickly running the distance home.


If the plan was to slip in the house unnoticed, she should have expected to see her father and brother's cars in the drive. For once she cursed that they had the day off.

"Your hair!" Someone called as she was trying to slip in the back door unnoticed.

Damn.

"Lori! When did you get your hair done?" Asked her father as the room instantly turned it's attention her way.

"I...went to Wal-mart and had it done while I was there. What do you think?" She lied quickly.

"Wow. Did you give them a copy of your biography?" Asked her Gram. "It looks...very, very you."

"You look amazing." Said Riley.

"You look like Alex Parks." Said Jason. "And I mean that in a good way." He added more reluctantly.

"I love it." Announced her father, gathering her up in a hug. "But I wish you had told me first, I would have payed for you to go to your favorite place."

"Man, I don't think even Tina could have done a better job than this." Riley and Gram were playing with the spiky ends of her doo.

"Which one of the stylists was it?"

"A...new guy I think." Lorelei pulled gently out of the admiring circle of her family members. "Well, I'm going to go get ready for my date." She claimed on her way upstairs.

"But you're not getting picked up till five!" Yelled Riley. She didn't receive any answer beyond the door to Lorelei's room being shut.


The rest of the evening came and went without consequence. She left Edward both lunch and dinner at two O'clock, and explaining with an edge of guilt that she couldn't stay, promptly returned home to fall into a restless sleep on her bedroom floor with the radio going.

Her brother obligingly woke her up at a quarter to five.

She had already dressed herself in a small red plaid skirt, black scarf and boots and a black and white striped top. Much of her wardrobe was, in fact, constituted of these three colors. It was the way she knew how to dress.

"And if she's comfortable in her own skin." Her mother had said. "Leave her be."

A style her mother had been at least willing to tolerate, her family had more recently decided must be a sign of her depression.

Glancing in the mirror, her slightly crooked grin broke out of it's hiding place again as she saw her hair for the second time that day. No work needed to be done there.

"Your date's here!" Squeaked Iilysa her nine year-old sister, from below.

"And it doesn't look like he's coming in." Added Riley. "Man, he's a hunk though!"

Suddenly apprehensive, she glanced out of her bedroom window. Her intention to see the boy was instantly lost in the welling awe inspired by the car he was in. Lounging in a charcoal gray convertible Corvette, exactly the kind of car she had wanted for years, the blonde head of a Jim...what was his last name? Suddenly brought foreign excitement in the whole prospect of a date that been missing for as long as she could remember. Maybe this wasn't such a horrible idea after all.

Her boots crunched the drive as she walked out to meet her date, who promptly reached over to open the door for her. He was good looking. Blonde, tan, with a slightly snubbed nose and true linebacker physique, and piercing blue eyes that studied her up and down casually as she approached.

"You must be Jim." Lorelei noted just before sliding into the black leather interior. "Nice car." She added with a smile.

Instant pride was in his perfect smile. "Thanks. You must be...uhm..." He chuckled. "To be honest, I've been trying to remember your name the whole way over."

"Lorelei. And it's not easy to remember." She introduced herself, smiling, before turning back to her father at the door. "Movie ends at 7:30, then we're going out for dinner. We'll be back around a quarter after eight, OK?"

She turned back to Jim awkwardly. "That all right with you?"

The latter shrugged muscular shoulders nonchalantly. "Guess that's the plan."

Adrenaline was summoned with the roar of the engine on that car, and the few attempts that Jim made at conversation suffered through no fault of his own. Lorelei was naturally the quiet type...except around Edward, she had discovered...and just now she was far too enamored by the warm rushing air of the convertible as her hometown zipped by beside them. Jim took liberal usage of the speed limits on the rural highways, but just this once, Lorelei could forgive the law-breaking. It was hard not to fall in love with it, in fact.

"So, Jim," She tried reluctantly after a while. "Where'd you meet Bailey, exactly?"

"Oh, she was on a date with a friend of mine. Ran into her at a game the second time." A moment of silence as they gained some speed, passing another couple cars. "So I hear you're both homschooled huh?" Jim mentioned dubiously.

"Yeah."

"That uhm...must be fun..." He furthered doubtfully.

"It has it's ups and downs."

"You actually like it?" He sounded honestly surprised.

"It's OK. Like I said, there are advantages."

His silence in return to this lame defense made her throat go dry. She had defended homeschooling before, heck, her best friend was the perfect argument against the un-socialized myth, but somehow Jim's radiated confidence and casual perfection made her feel stupid the minute she opened her mouth. The next few attempts at conversation came from her, and fizzled out with uncomfortable quickness. Her untapped enthusiasm for this trip faded as quickly as it had come.

In the theater parking lot, they found Bailey, her handsome boyfriend, a Japanese exchange student, Sarah and her respective date, and Jennifer; a gorgeous red-head with a penchant for bubbly dresses, who had brought her new beau along.

"So...how are you two getting along?" Asked Bailey in her sweetest voice as soon as introductions and a general conversation time, not emitting compliments for her hair, were over. Her obviousness made Lorelei nauseous. She was playing her favorite game: matchmaking.

"Fine." Said Lorelei as enthusiastically as she could manage with Jim's eyes on her. "You didn't tell me what an amazing ride he had."

"And you didn't tell me she was a goth, either." Chuckled Jim dryly. It was meant as a joke, but something in his tone made her wince.

"Well what would you guys have to talk about otherwise?" Bailey was ecstatic, everything except what she wanted to hear going over her curly head. The movie started sooner than they had expected, and the eight teens took their choice seats near the front of the theater.

It took less than ten minutes for the two established couples to begin making out with each other. In her seat next to a severely bored looking Jim, Lorelei felt like sinking into the floorboards. She had been on dates before, lots of them: but usually with people she had known for a longer time, and sometimes there had been some kissing. In this situation though she was entirely at a loss about what to do.

It didn't take long for a Jim to find a solution to his problem though. Lorelei turned back after a few minutes to find him amorously conversing with a stricken Jennifer, much to her wimpish looking boyfriend's chagrin.

Even though she burned with a distant anger, it was something of a relief. With a hand in her dark purple locks, she buried herself in the movie, trying to decide if it were the terrible romance or the terrible comedy that had made Bailey pick it.

Thoughts of Edward clouded her mind, bringing a smile to her face once again. The thought of his conclusion at the explanation of a date, and his shy embarrassed reaction to...nearly everything she did. He was non-judgmental in the extreme, and consequently it was easy to be herself around him.

She was tired, she realized, hours later as they dizzily walked out of the movie theater and into the waning light of day. Jim wasn't even attempting to be sneaky, asking Lorelei in front of everyone if "Jennifer could have a turn riding in the car." To the restaurant. She nodded him off, feeling a smile plaster itself on her face without her bidding. All she wanted at this point was to go home.

Dinner was predictable. She felt as though she should strike up a conversation with Jennifer's discarded date, but he was obviously preoccupied with staring daggers at a couldn't-care-less Jim, so instead she merely picked at her food, and tried to ignore them.

It was hard, when she heard her name a few times, in conjunction with the words "Doc-Martens" and, of course, "Awkward".

Matters dragged on this way for days, it seemed. The sky around her favorite diner grew dark in a blink of an eye. Finally breaking a two-and-a-half-hour silence, Lorelei quietly reminded her friend the hour that she was expected home.

In his most gallant act of the night, Jim drove her back to her house. If conversation had been scarce on the way, it was non existent on the return trip. The muggy night air was thick with the sweet smell of freshly cut grass, and she rested her cheek on the edge of the car, picking out stars in the distance and letting the warm wind whip her hair about. She felt numb to the awkwardness of the situation, inwardly building indifference to the idea that she'd been mistreated. The evening felt like it had lasted years, she was only happy to be going home.

In the driveway of her house, she scribbled her phone number down for Jim. In his way, she figured, asking for it was something of an apology. Honestly she didn't care. Honestly, she didn't have the strength to blame him. Maybe she was just that impossibly distant from other people after all.

Her little sisters were crowded on the livingroom couch, watching a movie, drifting in the halfway realm that came before sleep. She tiptoed behind them into her father's room where he was occupied with work papers, letting him know with as happy a tone as she could that she was home, answering his questions with: "I'll tell you about it tomorrow." She knew what she would tell him tomorrow, and also what she wouldn't. She had decided a long time ago that he bore too many burdens to add hers as well. He just didn't know how to handle her pain. That had always been her mother's job.

Upstairs in the cool of her room with soft Nouvelle Vague playing, she lay on her bed for hours and drew absently. She was not an artist, she knew and accepted. Perspective alluded her, but it was a still calming exercise. She especially liked to practice with shadows. On her sketchpad, the black corner of the tennis court under the moonlight began to take shape, the vague outlines of tree limbs overhanging it.

Her pencil broke, and without another thought she brushed the entire mess off the edge of her bed, and gave in to thinking. Frustration grew with every silent moment she spent contemplating what she was trying not to consider. In two weeks, the calender above her bed told her, she would turn seventeen. Seventeen, and she had no plans for anything, no one she wanted to be with. There were the blurred, superficial dreams she had made for her future in the past few years: the high-class college she had wanted into, her career in journalism, a part-time job as a pianist. They seemed almost funny now, none appealing to her with the same fiery passion as they had in the past. She had aged too quickly, and she suddenly realized that she had no idea what she wanted. And there was no one there to say it to, no one to assure her she was too young to worry about this kind of thing. No one to allow her a moment of pure childish agitation and soothe it with understanding.


The clock read eleven as she slipped though the now-abandoned livingroom and out the backdoor of her house. The air was even warmer than before, flushed Summer dankness enveloping her jeans-and-sweatshirt clad body as her aged denim sneakers crunched the gravel on her walk. Familiarly, she walked the backstreet roads in the brilliantly lit darkness, the fear of punishment –she had never 'snuck out' before—fading the farther away from her sleeping house she went. She needed to think, but somehow, she couldn't. Refused.

Breaking into a run as she neared the civic center, passing the highly-fenced pool and the sighing, abandoned playground, she entered the darkened woods that overhung what was left of the concrete pathway to Edward's domain. Grunting slightly as she squeezed through the hole in the court fence, a sudden sting caused her to yelp scarcely as she scratched her upper arm on the jagged end of the steel.

Without notice she stumbled into the middle of the empty court, under another moonlight sky, by herself. Edward wasn't here, she realized with pungent obviousness. Of course not, it was eleven at night—and what else did he have to do? He would be asleep. That was his life: a frightened innocent prisoner with all the sadness in the world to bear, and she had come running to him with petty troubles.

A small fist clanged in the fence in frustration.

She sunk to the ground and buried her head in her knees for a few moments in silence. There would be no crying tonight, not over this, but she allowed herself to drown in her confusion and anger for a moment. Not about Jim, or his ridicule- that couldn't matter less to her. It was just one more straw on the camel's back. Another attempt at restoring normalcy that had gone wrong.

"...Lori?"

She pulled out of her low stance and looked up to find Edward standing above her, confusion and concern etched into his pale face that seemed to belong in the darkness.

"Hello Edward." Her voice was rough from the run in the night air.

Carefully, he lowered himself down in front of her. "Are you OK?" He asked timidly, as though it weren't his place.

She nodded, smiling tiredly. She was, somehow, now that there was someone to take note of her frustration. "Date...didn't exactly go well."

His brilliant dark eyes searched hers intensely, even as his face remained in the same neutral, caring expression.

"I'm sorry." He said finally, soft voice lowering. Lorelei felt her depression and anger fade instantly.

"Thanks for not asking what happened." She smiled in honesty.

He wasn't sure what the right reply to this was, obviously. "...You're welcome."

She laughed lightly in a breath of air."You deserve a lot better than all this, you know that?"

As soon as she said the words, she wanted to take them back. Not because they weren't true, but because his full eyes instantly took on the most fathomless look of sadness she could imagine. He disagreed with her, she realized with a mental slap. He thought he actually deserved everything that had happened to him. She didn't know what that was, exactly...the story he had told her still lacked an ending. But she knew him, and she knew that he was not the kind of boy who would ever have done something to justify this.

"I snuck out of my house." She said randomly, a mere attempt to break the uncomfortable silence, but it, too, struck her now that she was back in her right mind. "Oh man, I snuck out of my house." She rose to her feet disorientedly, clapping hand to her forehead. "Oh Hell... Edward...I really need to get back. I didn't mean to wake you up, I shouldn't have come...augh." She broke off to see him out of the corner of her eye, staring distantly at the ground as she rambled, flawless eyes still full of that remorse, and was overcome with an overwhelming thankfulness for this bizarre confidant hiding in the darkness.

"Edward?"

He turned his full attention to her, a 'yes?' forming on his lips.

Without further warning she mustered all her courage, slid her arms underneath the ones held out at his side, and gathered him into a quick hug. At least, she meant it that way. Her arms met each other around his lean waist, and he took a tiny step backwards as she felt him tense considerably, and then slowly relax. And something about felt very right. The leathery smell of his suit so close filled her with the inexplicable urge to lay her head against his chest, but she refrained, slowly pulling away and sliding her hands up to his arms to look at him in the darkness. He looked like a ghost in the blueish moonlight, luminescent black eyes staring calmly out from his stark white face. He swallowed gently, and Lorelei smiled, releasing the hold she had on his wrists.

In a sudden instant his eyes widened, expression morphing into one of sincere panic.

"Lori..." Her name came out in a frightened gasp of a syllable. Stepping back away from her, he held up one of his hands to stare at it in the moonlight. There was blood on it.

Stunned, it took a Lorelei a moment to realize what was going on, when a slight sting in the side of her arm alerted her to the forgotten cut she had received earlier. Her nervous laugh cut the silence the wrong way.

"Edward, you didn't do that...hey, listen to me..." He looked as though he really might turn and run from her. "I scratched it on the fence when I came in, it's fine, really." She breached the space between them, lowering Edward's hand forcibly from where it was held in front of his face.

"Are you gonna be OK?" She asked.

"Yes." He relaxed, reluctantly lowering his arms down to his side once more. His heart raced in the silence, whether from the lingering euphoria of her embrace, or the terror caused by the angry red line of blood that had soaked through Lorelei's sleeve, he didn't know.

Lorelei's eyes dropped to the court floor again, her confusion returning in full swing. Somehow, she thought dismally, she had managed to screw up two relationships in one night. "Sorry about that Edward."

"Sorry about what?"

She took a heavy breath, sticking her hands in her pockets. "Coming here so late, having to leave again so early, royally freaking you out, take your pick." She said sarcastically. She glanced up again to find him smiling at her, the full, rare, glowing smile she liked to see. She felt warm relief envelope her, and then fade as her thoughts resumed their panicky state.

"Oh man, Edward, I really need to get home. Really. My dad would kill me..." All right, so he didn't need all the details.

Edward swallowed inaudibly again. "Goodbye." He said gently, still retaining a slight ghost of a smile.

Lorelei smiled wanly back, feeling the urge to embrace him again. This time though, she managed to resist, and just as before, slipped out the back way quickly without glancing back. She made the way home in record time, purposefully exhausting herself so that when she finally flopped into bed for the second time that night, her physical need for sleep overcame her mental and emotional need for clarity. It was easy to forget about Jim now, she had Edward to worry about. His derision towards himself unnerved her enough to let her forget her own problems for the time being, and she fell into a deep sleep with the new commission in mind. She would repair him, one or another, if she couldn't repair herself.

Edward didn't sleep at all that night. He lay awake on the floor of his makeshift home, staring at the ceiling, every once and a while an odd smile drifting across his features. Happier and more confused than he had been in months.


Review, and be honest, please. Once again, I beg your patience with me. And for the record, yes: Jim and his car are completely useless characters in this chapter, but I do intend something in the future. Ta ta for now my dears!