My entry to the Ho Hey Contest. I didn't win, which is totally boo, but I had fun writing it. C: And the people that DID win totally deserved it. I could kinda tell they'd win from the beginning. Unf, dem fanfics.

I meant to submit this to the contest in three chaps, but ran outta time and gave over a massive 29k+ one shot. Talk about overwhelming. So this'll be up in three over the next three days. Enjoy my beauties.

The "Ho Hey" Contest

Story Title: A Bus to Chinatown

Pen name: sparklevamp

Pairing: Edward/Bella

Word Count: 29027

A/N: This is supposed to be based off of Ho Hey, but really it ended up being based off the whole Lumineers album. Also, I have a few subtle Pitch Perfect references in here because I just can.

For as long as I can remember, Bella Swan and I had been pen pals. Well, when I say "as long as I can remember," I really mean since second grade. But it might as well be since I can remember, because after I got that first letter back from her one cold October day, she started taking root in every moment of my life.

It wasn't right away that I knew she'd be the most important person I'd ever know, because like I said, we started writing each other in second grade. What seven-year-old knows anything about soul mates, right? But I always knew she'd be something special. And just like most relationships starting at a young age, the first emotion she inflicted in me was irritation.


Mrs. Biers had us all take permission slips home the previous Friday so we could get the go ahead on sending letters to pen pals all over the country. For a dumb reason I didn't know, the teacher had us pick a town or city on the pen pal list and then write a letter and she picks who it'll be sent to, not us, so I didn't even know my pen pal's name. I knew mom would let me though because she's a writer, and would totally want me to "broaden my perspective" or whatever. I think she wants me to start a family business/tradition of writers. She's weird.

So I marched my little butt in to the class room, clad in a stupid sweater with pumpkins on it, and wrote my first letter to the kid who'd been assigned to me. He lived in New York.

Dear Pal,

My name is Edward Cullen and I'm 7 years old. I live in a town called Forks, Washington. It's kinda small and really rainy but it's okay. There is a lot of nice people here. Are you nice? I don't know if you're a boy or a girl but I kind of hope you're a boy because I am one too. I don't know if me and a girl would have a lot to talk about because I like Transformers and baseball and Hot Wheels. If you are a girl, do you like Barbie's?

My little sister Alice likes Barbie's. She's 5. She started Kindergarden this year. I have more homework than her but not a lot. My mom is a writer for kid's books and she made me wear a really dumb sweater today. It's big and orange and ugly and I wanna throw it off but then I'd be really cold. Does it get really really cold in New York? I wanna go there some day and see the Statue of Liberty and the Vampire State Building. Hahahaha! I call it that sometimes.

My hand is kind of hurting but I wanna say one more thing is that my favorite color is blue so I wanna know what color is your favorite and also your name. It's dumb they didn't tell me your name first before writing this. It makes no sense.



Then I sealed it all up and gave it to the teacher to send. I told my mom that night that I wrote the letter about the ugly sweater she dressed me in and she got all tight lippy. She's funny.

When I went to bed, I couldn't really sleep because I was super excited for my letter to reach my pen pal. I stared up at my glow in the dark star stickers on the high ceiling and imagined what they might write back to me and what I'd reply with. Imagination Me was writing about the stickers, and how they turn to blurry green smudges whenever I fall asleep, before I did just that.

My letter didn't come until the next Friday. Well, the class's letters, but I didn't care about their letters obviously. Only mine.

I violently ripped the envelope open and tore out the letter. Before reading any of it, I skipped to the bottom to see my pen pal's name. And holy crab.

It was a girl.

Dear Edward,

It's weird that they didn't tell you my name. I didn't know yours until I got your letter with your name on it, so I guess I'm lucky that I get to know what I should write about. And sorry to disappoint you, but I am in fact a girl. My name is Isabella Marie Swan, Bella for short, and I am seven years old too. My birthday is on September 13th, and no I do not like Barbie's. I like Strawberry Shortcake though, and Rainbow Bright. I do like Power Rangers though. The Blue one is my favorite.

And I was thinking ummm.

Speaking of blue, my favorite color is green. Or purple. Sometimes yellow. It changes a lot, but I don't like red that much. My mother made me wear a red sweater today, because yes it does get incredibly cold up here. I think I'd rather have your orange pumpkin one. It's cold in pretty much everywhere up north I'm sure. I live in Queens, which is a part of New York, but I'm sure you knew that since you received my letter with the return address.

I didn't know that actually.

I walked to school today and writing our letters is the first thing we've done in class, so my socks are still all cold and wet in my boots from the snow. We had a snow day last week and I made a snow-woman and named it Lucy. I know that's an old name, but it's because my mom and I like to watch I Love Lucy reruns on her days off and that show is really really funny. Have you ever seen that show? You should. You'll laugh so hard. It's a classic.

What does a classic mean?!

I went last year to the stature of liberty with my dad. We went up to the very top where the crown is and we could see all over everywhere. It was scary, but it was fun. I haven't been to the Empire State Building though. My mom says it's full of "corporate busy bodies with no sense of the beauty in the simple things in life." I'm not all the way sure what she means by that, but maybe that they're all so high up in that building that they don't see all the great and beautiful things on the ground. Like lights or trees or Sam's Hot Dog Stand on the corner of 4th street. Or the bird clock my grandma left to us. My mom and I love that clock. It hangs up in our kitchen and tweets a new bird tweet every hour. Have you ever heard what a Chestnut-shouldered Petronia sounds like?

My face went all confused-looking. A what?!

Well I guess my letter is kind of long now, but I hope that's okay because I just really like to write. When you said your mom's a writer, I got excited because that's what I want to be when I grow up. My favorite books are Junie B. Jones. They are hilarious! What books does your mom write? And what do you want to do when you grow up?


Bella Swan

My jaw had dropped from the very beginning of the letter. This girl is seven?! She writes – but I mean – she – what the heck?! She doesn't write like she's seven, she writes like a grown up! And – and – she made me feel all stupid in the head. I couldn't remember most of my letter to her, but I was sure it sounded way less… sophisticationated than hers. Hers was long and cool and smart and made sense, and mine probably made me look like a butt head.

And I was so mad that I hadn't even seen this girl and she was making my cheeks burn with second grade rage. I hated blushing. Only girls do that.

I planned to send her the longest, smartest, coolest, most sopisticationated letter ever written. It would be way better than hers because I wouldn't say dumb girl things about bird clocks and I Love Lucy. But most of all, I wanted to make her mad and embarrassed like I was. I planned to send her a letter about how much I looove the color red, and how super stupid Strawberry Shortcake is, and how the Blue Power Ranger is a total wuss, and that Chestnut-shouldered Petronias are the ugliest birds in the world (even though I'd never seen one), and that when I grow up I'll be the president and she'll end up writing those Dear Abby columns my Grammy loves so much.

I grabbed my pencil and slammed it down on a piece of blank paper, breaking the tip. I stared at the splintered wood and grainy flat top of the lead hiding inside and thought yo, you need to chill. My cousin Jasper who's a teenager says that to me sometimes. Gulping in a big breath, I looked around, sure that my anger could be felt by everyone in the class, but they were all happily writing their dumb letters to people that don't write back thinking they're better than you.

Then I stopped. Write back thinking they're better than you. I wanted to hit myself after thinking that. That wasn't what she was doing. She's never even met me, so why would she think she's better than me? If my mom was here and I told her that, she'd be so angry at me. She'd say how rude that is just because this girl writes better than me and to give her a chance, and to see if I could try to write better this time.

I read her letter again, running my hand over the bumps where her pencil scratched too hard. And reading it again, I found that she had very pretty writing. Just this letter back to me felt like reading a fairytale story. And I really wanted to reply back to her, but not with that mean letter I had written in my head a minute ago. That would hurt her feelings, and I didn't want that. Girls are sensitive. Though something told me that she would write back with something equally as snippy.

And the longer I thought, the longer I couldn't think of what to write. Before I knew it, Mrs. Biers was asking us for our letters, and I still had my face smooshed into my fist trying to think of something to write about that wouldn't make me look moronish.

I didn't pass up my letter. I waited until the end of class and walked up to her desk.

"Um, Mrs. Biers? I gotta' tell you something." She looked up at me. "I didn't hand in my letter. I… can't think of anything to write."

She opened her mouth to say something, but then my mouth got all word barfy and I said, "I can't think of anything to write because her letter is so good! It looks like a grown up wrote it or something! I don't wanna send her a letter that'll make her think I'm not smart like her! Why'd you have to pick someone so smart for me to write to, huh?"

Mrs. Biers looked shocked for a second, before she opened her mouth again. "Well, I've never met her, Edward, so I didn't know how well or not she writes. I can't switch your pen pals, though, if that's what you're going to ask me."

Ugh, adults! They just don't get it! "No, Mrs. Biers! I wanna know how to write better! I wanna send her a good letter, and not a dumb one like the last one I sent! Here, read it!" I shoved Bella's letter in her face and shook it. "It's really good."

She didn't even get half way through before she agreed with me. "It is very good, Edward. So you didn't write your letter, and need help with it?" Duh, I just said that! She glanced at the clock, then back at me. "Well, I can't really help you, hon. It's time for you to go home, and I don't want your mom to worry if you're not out there. I guess… You can go home and work on it, and give it to me tomorrow when class starts."

I pouted at her not helping me, but then I realized something.

"Hey! I can ask my mom to help me! She's good at writing!" I smiled brightly at her.

She returned the smile and smoothed the hairs sticking up on the back of my head as she stood from her chair. "Yeah! But make sure you write it, not her. You can ask her for help, but I'm sure Isabella will appreciate what you have to say in your own way than how well you write."

"Bella," I quickly corrected her before running out the door and down the now empty hallway.

I couldn't wait to get home and finish the letter. For the first time ever, I was excited to have homework.

And then the world came crashing down on my little body when my mother refused to help me.

"But didn't you see how good she writes? I want mine to be as good as hers and she even said she was excited when I told her you're a writer too and she's probably gonna' wanna' read your stuff so cooooome oooooon, Moooom!" Cue the pout.

"No, Edward." She shook her head and gave me the mom face. "I can't write this for you. An author must learn through trial and error what his writing style is." Ugh, Mom. I don't have time for your writer's logic right now.

"No, Mom! I don't want you to write it for me, I just want you to help me! It's just that... I don't want her to think I'm a dummy."

Mom didn't talk for a second, and then she crouched down next to my chair to look me in the eye. She smoothed my hair like Mrs. Biers did. A lot of people do that for some reason. "Baby, she won't think you're a dummy. She'll think you're kind and sweet just like I do."

"Yeah, but what do I write about?"

"Write about yourself; that's what she did. That's what you're supposed to do when you write to pen pals, so you can get to know each other. Write about me or Dad or your favorite animal or our trip to the Grand Canyon. Just write."

She got up then and kissed my head. I slumped up to my room.

I laid there in my bed, pencil and her letter limp in my hand. And I thought about what my mom said. Just write.

I repeated it in my head and said it out loud. Just write. Just write. Just write. And I thought about how that word started to sound silly and meaningless the more I thought it, and I wondered what just write even means. Who even started words anyway? Who just one day started saying stuff and naming things and decided this means that and that means this? And I thought about how every word has a different meaning in the dictionary and all those definitions have more words in them with more meanings and how nothing ever ends and everything is connected like a big spider web or a family tree. And then I stopped thinking that because it made my brain feel buzzy.

Staring up at my ceiling, I noticed the glow in the dark star stickers. I remembered thinking a few days ago about how I'd get my pal's letter and I'd write a great letter about glowing stickers. I guess I could start with that. I read some parts of her letter again and realized she kinda replied to me sentence by sentence. I should probably do that.

I started making note of the things I could talk to her about: Power Rangers, birthdays, parts of New York, Mom's books, what I wanna be when I grow up, bird clocks and Chestnut-shouldered Petronias, and I Love Lucy. I'd never seen that show, and now that she'd mentioned it, I kinda wanted to.

I grabbed a paper from my back pack and scooted up to the top of the bed. The pencil tip touched paper, and I just wrote. Carefully.

Dear Bella,

It's nice to know your name now. Even though I was surprised to find out you're a girl, I think we're going to be good pen pal friends. My birthday is June 20th, so I'm 3 months older than you, but that's okay. I think Strawberry Shortcake is way cooler than Barbie's and Power Rangers are awesome. I also really like the Blue one, but I like the Black one best.

I kind of like red. It's not so bad, especially during Christmas. I have a red sleigh that I ride down my driveway every year because our driveway is really long and hilly and gets super snowy during winter. Since I live in a small town, we don't have different names of parts of town like you do, but maybe they do in Seattle. I have never heard of Queens before. Is it nice there?

I have never named a snowman or snow-woman before, but maybe I'll do it next time. And I have not seen I Love Lucy before, but maybe I will later. What does a classic mean? Does that mean it is really good? I heard my mom say that once about her favorite movie. Does it mean the same like classical music?

I'm writing this letter in my room on my bed. It has blue sheets with race cars on them. My bed is kind of big for me but that's okay because I roll around in my sleep a lot. One time I rolled all the way to the end of the bed and fell off. My favorite part of my room is my glow in the dark star stickers. Stars are my favorite. I like to go to sleep on my back because I can see the stars, and it's not just a little but a LOT of stars. We used about 7 packages of them from Walmart. I don't know what a Chestnut-shouldered Petronia is, but that bird clock sounds really cool and special to you, so I could say that my stars are like that to me because they feel like magic when I go to sleep and they smudge away like green paint.

I really like your letter, by the way. You have a very nice what my mom would call "writing style." You write so good that I didn't know how to write back because I didn't wanna sound dumb. I asked my mom and teacher to read it and help me but they didn't really. I don't know why I am writing this but I just wanted to tell you that I think you are gonna be a very good writer when you grow up. I don't know what I wanna be yet.

I have read a Junie B. Jones book before. It was the one where she goes to a mean kid's birthday and it was really funny. The person who draws the pictures is really good. My mom's name is Esme Cullen and she writes those books about kids and dragons called Barren's Adventures. Have you read any of them? I don't read a lot of books, but I have read this new one called Captain Underpants. It is so funny!

So I am gonna go now, but I wanted to know what is your favorite animal? Mine is turtles. I have one named Shelley. She's a baby turtle and fits right into my hand. Do you have any pets too?



After I wrote my name, I sighed real big like I was holding my breath. I looked over at the clock and saw that it had been two hours I was writing that letter. That made sense though because writing is hard. Especially when you're trying to make it good. My letter was covered in those little eraser thingies that come off after erasing, so I blew them off and read my two page letter again, making sure it didn't sound weird or have bad spelled words, then I sealed it up in an envelope and wrote our addresses on it.

Right before I was about to lick it closed, I thought of something. I got up and walked through the house looking for Mom. She was in the kitchen reading a book while some food was cooking. Sometimes she did this and forgot about the food and it burned, but everything looked all clear this time.

"Mom?" She looked up slowly, still stuck in her book. "Do you like I Love Lucy?"

That night, we checked the TV guide and watched it. I didn't know it would be black and white, but it was pretty funny. Sometimes people would laugh and I wouldn't know why, but maybe it was just a grown up joke. I liked Lucy, but her loud friend was kind of annoying. It was really funny when she'd make a face and say silly things and I got why Bella liked this show so much.

My mom must really like this show because she laughed even more than me and that made me smile.

Before I went to bed, I pulled the letter back out.

P.S. I just watched I Love Lucy with my mom, the one where she gets a racehorse. It really was funny! Especially when we saw all the cereal in her kitchen and when the horse sat on the couch. I liked it a lot. I think I understand what a "classic" is now.

I sealed it up and went to sleep, smiling up at my stars.


I sat in the scratchy second class seat as the plane touched down on the ground, my legs bouncing up and down anxiously. It was snowing, unsurprisingly, and covered all of the JFK area in a white sheet. I've never been a stranger to the effects snow, but there was something enchanting about New York in winter time.

The plane crept slowly along the tarmac and I tried occupying myself with the last remaining pages of the book I bought at Sea-Tac. It wasn't all too great, but I'd finished Bella's book yesterday, and I needed something to keep me from dying of boredom since the inflight film was that terrible movie about the talking guinea pigs. But now the book couldn't hold my attention in the slightest. Every cell in my body buzzed with knowing Bella waited in the downstairs for me.

When the plane finally connected to the jet bridge and the seat belt sign blinked off, I was about ready to spring out of my seat. I shook my head. Jesus, dude, chill ya fuckin' balls.

The old lady sitting next to me got up shakily, trying to reach her bag at the top compartment. I helped her get it down just as I'd put it up for her earlier, and she thanked me again with a toothy smile. I followed her down the walkway, trying to dodge elbows and jutting shoulders as other passengers uncovered their luggage from up top. The plane was rather small for such a long flight, but it was boarded to full capacity. For someone who'd never been in an airplane before, that was very frightening.

The pretty blond flight attendant waved goodbye to me. I hoped it was out of friendliness and not because she was giving me special attention, though I doubted it. I waved back and stepped through the plane door, carefully watching my step. I didn't like that tiny space between the door and the bridge. It made my imagination run awry and I thought about the bridge collapsing and making me fall to my death. The one thing freakier than being thousands of miles above ground in an enclosed aircraft was stepping over a small gap only a few feet above ground. Or was that just me?

The bridge shook with the harsh wind, blowing through the cracks in the temporary walls and making me shiver. When the gate came into view, my heart raced. I had this fantasy where I'd walk out and see her standing there waiting for me, her eyes shining and folded hands tucked under her smile, and I'd drop my bags and run to her. But I knew that she wouldn't be there at the gate since that's not allowed, so I'd just have to settle for that movie moment when the main character comes down the escalator and sees that person they've traveled miles for at baggage claim.

I was mostly stuck behind the old lady the whole time, not having the heart to push around her and through the crowds, and that added with the intense mob gathered at the escalators made it feel like I'd never get that moment I wanted.

Finally, I broke through, and though I was mashed against a large lumber jack-type man with a big ginger beard, I still felt light while watching the next floor slowly rise up to me.

I looked out around the area, the smile splitting my face almost too expectant.

I didn't see her.

Okay, so I wouldn't get that moment I wanted, but once I found her I'd definitely get that drop-bags-and-run-to-her instant.

Then I was on the ground floor and the luggage was going around and around on the carousel and tumbling down from that mysterious hatch in the ceiling and rolling on two wheels and four and mashed on carts with even more luggage and people were milling around and running and pacing and none of them were Bella.

Suddenly, a bird call sounded from behind me and my expectant smile returned, because I knew that sound.

I turned around. She was crouching next to the escalator I'd come off of with a huge, excited grin spread across her beautiful face. She looked just how she always did – T-shirt and jeans, chunky black boots, brown hair tumbling out of her signature messy bun – but now I had the full view. Now I could appreciate her appearance fully and completely.

"I hid to surprise you," she called out. "Are you surprised?"

I laughed. "Very. I had it all mapped out how I'd find you down here, and you've foiled my plans once again, Bella Swan."

At the sound of her name, she stretched out of her crouch, eyes shining. Her smile was endearingly contagious and I was just about to carry out my airport fantasy when she ran towards me instead.

I dropped my bags and she jumped into my arms, her laughter echoing in my ears. We spun around and I ended up accidentally kicking my bag away, but I didn't care. I was here with her.

"I missed you," she mumbled, arms still locked around my neck and face hidden in my shoulder. Her chest was against mine and I could feel her breathing so close to me.

I kissed her hair. "I missed you." We both knew we weren't talking about just the last time we talked or seen each other's faces. We missed each other our whole lives.


While most of my classmates stopped writing to their pen pals, Bella and I continued our letters. Some people kept up with their pals, but eventually they stopped writing letters and stopped getting them and their second grade pen pals faded into the abyss of minds that were slowly preparing themselves for adolescence.

I didn't wanna' ever give up writing to Bella, though. Every time I got a letter from her, my heart raced and I smiled my biggest smiles. Writing my own letters to her were almost as fun as getting them, because it felt good to share myself with her.

I kept all her letters to me in a shoe box under my bed. Some times when I couldn't sleep at night, I'd take one out and read it again and smile, because a person I'd never met was becoming my best friend.

In third grade we started sending each other presents for Christmas and birthdays. I sent her a pair of Strawberry Shortcake mittens, she sent me a wind up jet plane. I sent her one of my mom's books, she sent me a stuffed Chestnut-shouldered Petronia, which is really just a sparrow with a yellow throat. She said she found it at the New York Zoo gift shop. It sits on my bed all the time now.

One day during the summer before my fifth grade year, she sent me a really special letter.

I used to rip open her letters really fast out of excitement, but eventually I started opening them carefully because I wanted to keep them nice to put away. I told her this once in a letter and she sent me a letter opener that looks like a sword for Christmas that year. I used it only on her letters, and as I sliced that envelope open, I saw a smaller paper accompanying her letter. I pulled it out, seeing the writing on the back first.

"I thought you might want to know my face. Can I see yours?"

I turned it over.

A girl with long, messy brown hair sat in a white rocking chair on a faded porch. Her smile was missing a front tooth and it was so big that her eyes were all squinty. She had soft looking eyelashes and her shallowly dimpled cheeks were puffed with happiness, glowing with a blush. She was probably the prettiest, cutest girl I'd ever seen.

In her hands was a stuffed bird that matched mine.

I didn't realize I was smiling until my face started hurting. I laid the picture on my bed and smoothed her letter out next to it.

Dear Edward,

I'm over at my grandpa's house for the Fourth of July weekend. His house is near the bay so he took me there to watch the fireworks last night. The firework shows in New York are like nothing you've ever seen! They're huge! It's so much better than setting off your own.

About halfway through the show, he told me a story about my grandma. He said that he was a soldier on leave and him and his army buddies had just come off the boat when the fireworks over the river started. He ran with his friends through the park and under the small sidewalk trees to get closer to the show, and when he looked up, he could see millions of lights bursting in the sky through the leaves like a colorful heaven opening up. He said it was one of the most beautiful things he'd ever seen.

When they got to the edge of the shore across from where they were being set off, they all got separated by the huge crowd. He was calling for his friend Gerald when he ran into someone. He apologized quickly when he saw the pretty woman he'd almost knocked over. She said it was fine and looked back up at the fireworks. Grandpa said that he would have kept looking for Gerald, but something stopped him. He knew this girl somehow, and he said that the way the big orange explosions sparkled in her eyes made his heart ache. He recognized her from the picture he'd gotten from his pen pal. He received a letter one day saying she signed up for a program to send letters to overseas soldiers and he went along with it because his only other family was his brother who was on the army with him and he'd always wanted the freedom of writing to a stranger. In one of her later letters she'd sent her picture. That was the last one he'd gotten before heading back to America.

He said he looked at her a little longer and soon she realized that he was staring at her.

I honestly forgot I was reading her retelling of her Grandpa's story. It felt like a story she had come up with and written herself.

She turned back to him and looked at him funny. Grandpa said she probably thought he was some kind of creeper, so he stuck his hand into his shirt pocket and pulled out her picture. It was of her sitting in a rocking chair on her front porch. He asked her if this was her and her eyes widened. Then he stuck out his hand and introduced himself as her pen pal.

Grandpa got really quiet then and looked up at a big blue firework that was shaped like a spaceship. I noticed he was crying a little, but he was smiling too. He said that was how he met my grandma.

His story kinda reminded me of you and me. And I thought, what if one day we're in each other's hometowns or in the same city randomly or on vacation in the same place and I passed right by you without knowing it? Wouldn't that be tragic?

I thought about that, mapped it out in the wide imagination she had evoked in me, and felt a twist in my gut. That would be horrible.

So today I asked Grandpa of he'd take a picture of me in the porch chair that Grandma's picture was taken in. He asked why and I told him that if I ever met Edward like he met Grandma, I'd want him to know it was me. He smiled and picked up his Polaroid camera and I went out to the chair.

Right before he took the picture I asked him to wait and ran into the house to get my stuffed bird. I didn't tell you before that I have one as well, sorry, but when I got one for you, I really wanted one for myself too. It makes me feel connected to you knowing we own the same thing. Is that weird? I like it though.

So I gave you my picture. Would you give me yours? Because if one day both our families go to the Grand Canyon for vacation and I see a boy standing at the guard rail looking down, and I go up to him and start talking about how beautiful the canyon looks at sunset and that it's amazing that it was all carved out just by a river, and he talks to me and I end up liking him a lot, but then leave without finding out his name and wondering if I'll ever see him again, I want to know that it was you.



After finishing her letter, I stared blankly at the page for a second, then looked over at her picture again. She really was pretty.

I got out a sheet of paper and wrote an equally long letter to her, saying how I liked our matching birds and that her Grandma must have been very beautiful and that we'd probably never meet at the Grand Canyon since my family has already been there, but we'd definitely meet at Niagara Falls. And we would totally know who the other was because I slipped in a picture of me sitting in a rocking chair at Cracker Barrel. I wrote on the back saying Do you think rocking chair pictures should be our tradition?


It's easy to find my suit case on the conveyer belt because it's one of the four remaining. We stood there so long holding each other that baggage claim had pretty much cleared out. Luckily, I'd kicked my bag not too far and it'd gotten trampled only a little bit. There wasn't much in it anyway; just some snacks and the book and a few dollars and my iPod, which was still intact and thankfully not stolen.

I was hauling my luggage to the floor when she grabbed the bag from my shoulder. I turned to stop her and say I got it, but she held a hand out to stop me and smiled. She wrapped the drawstrings around her shoulder and hooked her other arm through mine. I smiled back and she led me out the sliding glass doors.

Catching a cab in New York is really hard by the way, and I'm too stupid to remember that and call a cab in advance. I was afraid Bella would have to whistle and stick her leg out when one pulled up near us.

"I called a cab before you got here," she said before helping me put my suit case in the trunk. She needed to stop before my manly pride wore thin.

Bella gave the driver directions to her apartment once we were in the warm space of the cab. She shivered, saying how she didn't bring a coat because it wasn't snowing when she left and figured she wouldn't be outside for too long anyway. I laughed and shook my head, knowing that was something she'd do. Once we got going, she turned to me and that excited smile still hadn't left her face. Neither had mine, and we probably looked like psychos smiling at each other like that. But she was no more than a foot from me and I didn't care about anything but that.

That foot was too much and I scooted closer, our arms lined side by side. Her arm was cold from the freezing air outside and the hairs stood up on goose bumps. She hummed with the warm contact and crooked her elbow in mine again, but it wasn't enough. I slid my hand into hers. It felt amazing, and I thought how each nerve in my hand must be going into sensory intoxication with the way it tingled.

The way our hands fit perfectly together, and how she looked at me with this intense expression while snowflakes melted in her hair, and how I've never had this feeling before when looking into someone's eyes, made the hand holding feel far too intimate than I consciously knew it to be. It was all her.

She bumped her forehead into my cheek and snuggled closer, curling into me like a cat. I laid my head down on hers and watched the cars outside push and pull each other through traffic. The snow made the grungy yellow cabs look strangely pretty. The white puffs would fall in uncoordinated swerves, barely missing the cab or sizzling out on the overheated hood or sticking to the glowing sign on top. I tried to ignore the nasty slush on the side of the road. New York was new and beautiful to me right now, and I wanted it to stay that way for a while.

I looked down at the girl who made me think these new, open eyed thoughts. She was playing with the leather chord around my neck. She must have felt my gaze on her, because she smiled and slipped a cold finger beneath my shirt collar, rubbing the skin there. I shivered, partly from the cold of her touch and partly from her touch alone.

She looked up at me, smile lazy and eyes hooded and finger still in my shirt. Her hand curled around it and then all fingers were in my shirt, pulling the collar down a little. I took a deep breath.

I really, really wanted to kiss her.

This was our first official meeting, but I knew if I kissed her now she wouldn't stop me. And really, kissing her would feel fantastic anywhere under any circumstances, but I didn't want our first kiss to be in a taxi. That's not classy.

So instead, I dropped my head next to hers and kissed the corner of her jaw. She shuddered, and I pulled away, farther than I'd been before, and returned her lazy smile.

It was quiet for a moment before she suddenly perked up and pulled from my arms. She leaned up near the driver.

"This is my jam!" she said loudly. "Can you turn it up?"

He turned a knob on the decrepit radio console higher and she started singing along. It was a kind of folky, guitar-and-tambourine tune. I'd heard it multiple times before, but mostly because of her.

"Doesn't a jam usually require some sort of dance beat?" I teased her.

"Hey," she chastised. "No knocking my jam." She slapped my chest lightly and continued to quietly sing. I mumbled along eventually, which made her smile. I gave her a look that said yeah, yeah, whatever and her face turned smug.

Eventually, I put my arm around her and she sunk into my arms. It was a thirty to forty minute drive to her apartment in Chinatown, so we filled the time with looking out at the passing people and making up stories for them.

"He lost his beloved dog to heart cancer when he was twelve and decided to become a vet." She pointed to a man with a black trench coat covered in pet hair.

A woman in workout clothes carrying a gym bag over her shoulder rushed past him. "She left her unfaithful husband to be with her personal trainer."

Bella laughed loudly. "I'm sorry, that shouldn't be funny. Um, that guy had a dragon as an imaginary friend when he was little and named it Sporfor. He's planning on naming his first child the same."

My head snapped back when I laughed and hit the backboard. "Oh my God, haha! Okay okay, uh, she's having trouble getting her boyfriend to get off his lazy ass and commit."

"She's secretly in love with her brother's girlfriend."

"He has a church pants complex."

"She has a shrine to Boyz II Men in her pantry."

"They are a part of an underground cult that sells sexually tantalizing underwear for profit."

"Her deepest fantasy includes Seth MacFarlane and an egg beater."

We were in Chinatown by now and I pointed to a tall girl with glasses. Before I could make up something about her, Bella jumped up.

"That's Angela!" The taxi pulled up next to the building Angela was closing the door to and she turned around. "I can't wait for you to meet her."

She got out yelling for Angela to come here while I got my suit case out. I paid the cab driver and he drove away, leaving me to the girls.

Bella had told me a lot about Angela. They were best friends in high school, and continued that friendship onto college as roommates. She was very pretty, with slim features of a slightly Asian descent. She had the kind of face that made people know she was kind hearted.

She stuck her hand out and I shook it. "It's so nice to finally meet you!" She said.

I looked at Bella. "Yeah." It was just a dumb little word, but I put so much emphasis in it when I looked at her and... Yeah.

Angela's eyes shifted between us. She had that little side smirk people get when they're trying not to smile. "Well, I was just leaving to meet Ben, and Rose is helping Emmett set up, so... apartment's empty." She raised her eyebrows once and skipped off mischievously. Bella's face turned pink. "Have fun, see you tonight!"

I touched the warm color on her face with the back of my finger. Maybe that was weird, but I'd imagined it a bunch of times. I wanted to know what it really felt like. She flicked her eyes up to mine and kissed my knuckles.

"Come on." She grabbed my hand from her face and led me up the steps.

Her apartment was just on the cusp of Chinatown, so it was pretty low key. The architecture and decor was still beatifically Chinese, though. The bamboo frames and watercolor paintings fascinated me. Luckily, there was none of those rice paper doors. I'd probably break that shit in two seconds.

She unlocked her door and jammed her shoulder against it.

"Sorry, door is kinda stuck. I need to sand paper it or something. It gets like this in the winter." She shrugged and led me in.

It wasn't big, as most apartments for college students are, but it was cozy and well lived in. The kitchen door was just a few steps from the entrance on the right wall, and ahead there was a living room with a worn, L-shaped blue couch and a mahogany coffee table. An expensive looking stereo system sat opposite them. Bella went to it and pressed a button.

"I hope you don't mind Florence. Oh wait, of course you don't, because then we'd have a problem." She gave me a look of mock discipline. I laughed.

"Of course not. Where should I put this?" I gestured to my suit case and she showed me down the hall on the right of the living room.

"This hall has my room, the hall closet, and the bathroom, and Angela and Rose's rooms are in the other hallway behind the living room. You'll be sleeping in my room, obviously." She turned around in the doorway with her hands braced on the jams, blocking my entry. She leaned toward me. "Not that you're opposed, correct?" She gave me a devilish smile and twirled back.

I gulped.

And I don't know how I didn't notice this before, maybe because I didn't have her face to distract me, but her wide neck T-shirt had slipped past her shoulder and the tight black bra strap valleyed in the softness of her freckled skin. The blue hazy light glowing through the shades lit her up like some ethereal being, and I longed to make the lines of light on her skin meld into mine.

I left the suit case by the door and walked up behind her.

"You can set your suit case over there. I'm not sure I have any drawers available, I didn't have time to clear any space, but I'm sure I can –" Her voice cut off with a gasp when I kissed the valley. My hands were on her hips and she covered them with hers. I kissed down her shoulder, then back up to her neck. She curled her shoulders forward, making her collar bones more prominent, those sexy ass collar bones, and emitted a little sound.

My hands traveled to the front of her gray shirt. It was thick for a T-shirt, and I slipped my finger under the hem. She gasped again and brought a hand up to stroke my face when I kissed that spot I'd gotten earlier in the cab. Hesitantly, I licked the spot.

She wrenched away and whirled around, hitting me sharply with her hair. She grabbed my shirt roughly, almost angrily.

"You are driving me crazy!" she shouted.

I didn't know what was going on, and was about to say sorry, when she crushed my lips to hers.

Say my name, and every color illuminates.

I leaned into her, and she tried to pull me closer by my shirt, but it was kind of hurting the back of my neck. I released her grip and brought her hands around my neck, effectively bringing us chest to chest. Mine went to the small of her back, and she arched into me. Her back was heated under the thick fabric, and my touch made her moan.

I'd only ever heard this sound from her through the tinny static of a cell phone, but this was so much better. The way her whole frame vibrated with the sound and sent shock waves through mine, being able to feel it in my veins like some sort of sweet, lusty poison. Being able to reply back with my own enthusiastic sounds.

She licked my lip like a preparation before biting it. Oh God.

"I've been waiting years to do that," she whispered into me. Her leg was slowly rising up mine. If I let go of her, she'd fall. I knew she could feel me through our clothes, and I thought that maybe we should stop. Did she want to stop? Her words had brought me back down from that high place only she could bring me to and made me wonder if our first time should immediately follow our first kiss. Was there some kind of unwritten rule about that? Maybe I should ask her.

"Bella... Do you... Want to keep going? Or did you wanna stop? Because I forgot my etiquette book on these situations, so it's entirely up to you."

She kept breathing deeply for a moment, catching up from our kiss, and her leg slowly dropped back to the floor. My forehead was to hers and I opened my eyes to find hers still closed. That scrunch between her brows told me she was thinking.

"Uh... Uuuuuh... I think... Yeah. Yeah, let's stop." Her eyes opened, but she didn't pull away. She'd hooked her fingers around my collar again. Her eyelids were still hooded and her eyes still confused, so I cupped her face and gave her one last sweet kiss before pulling away.

She smiled gratefully and swayed a little.

"So that's what I've been missing all these years? Because damn Edward, I might need a cigarette."


"So then this kid named Roman got up, and when he was walking to the front, he tripped and I yelled the empire has fallen!"

It took me a moment to get it, but then I busted up laughing. "Oh! Hahaha! That isn't even that funny and I almost fell off my bed!"

She giggled. "It's not, I know! But at the time it was hilarious! You know, since we're learning about it and stuff. I felt really bad about it afterwards. I said sorry to him, but he said it was okay. I still felt terrible though."

I frowned. "Hey, it's okay. He said it was fine, right?"

"Well yeah, but it wasn't fine to me, even if it was really funny. I said I'd make it up to him by taking him to the Valentine's dance."

I froze.

Over the last few years, I'd figured something out. I really, really like Bella, and maybe not entirely in a friendship kinda way. She was my best friend, of course, but I didn't treat her like most of my friends. Not like Mike or Samuel or Leah. I definitely didn't treat Bella the way I treated Leah, even though she's a girl too. I figured maybe it's because they're different people, or I've known Bella longer, or that I've never actually met her. Then one day I saw my dad kissing my mom in the kitchen, and it was kinda gross, until I went upstairs to see all the pictures on my wall that Bella sent me. There was this one picture of her that was really nice. It was a close up of her in a pink, flowery dress with a big green park around her. She had a huge smile and I could count every one of her freckles. Her lips were poufy, even while being stretched into a smile, and they looked super soft. I thought about my parents kissing, and wondered what it'd be like to kiss Bella. I figured that wasn't what friends usually think about, but I couldn't shake the thought.

And now I was getting jealous that some weirdo named Roman gets to take Bella to a dance. Though, really, I had no right to be jealous.

I must have been quiet for a while, because her calling of my name over the phone brought me back.

"Oh, that's nice of you. Yeah, we get a Valentine's dance too. It's this Friday. I'm going with a friend."

Would that make her jealous too? Did she even think of me the way I thought of her? Would she care?

She was quiet too, then said, "Oh cool. Ours is this Friday too. So uh, what's her name?"

"Oh uh, it's um, Leah. I'm going with Leah... She asked me."

"Oh. Cool."

"Yeah. Cool..."

I didn't like this, it was too awkward. I could usually tell Bella everything, things even my family or Jasper or my friends didn't know about. So why did this have to be so dang hard? How come feelings suck?

And I wasn't gonna lie, I liked Leah. She's nice and an eighth grader, which is kinda cool. When I first met her, I was a little intimidated, because I'm in seventh grade and skinny and pale, and she's tall and bronze and a year older. I honestly didn't know why she asked me to go to the dance with her. I didn't even know she liked me enough for that.

I tried to salvage the situation, but I think I just made it worse. "Yeah, I think she likes me, but I don't really like her. She's cool and all, and pretty I guess, but I don't know. Maybe she's not my type? If I even have one..."

I shouldn't be allowed the ability to speak.

"Of course she likes you, Edward," she said a little sadly.

I didn't really have an answer for that.

At that moment, my mother called me for dinner.

"Hey, my mom just called me for dinner, so I gotta' go. Call you Sunday, 'kay? And I'll write you a letter about the dance."

"'Kay, I have to go to bed anyway. Bye," she said quickly, then hung up. I put the phone back on the receiver gently as if it were a bomb. I felt like crap.

And then I went to be a jerk and thought she had no right to be sad when I'm not sad over her going to her dance with Roman. Or, I guess I was a little sad. And peeved.

Ugh, I wish she wouldn't make me feel these weird things.

That night at dinner, I asked if I could get a plane ticket to see Bella for my birthday. I hadn't told Bella I was planning on asking them, so that she wouldn't get her hopes up in case they said no. We were always talking about seeing each other. I'd been putting it off, afraid of their answer, but now I felt really bad about making her sad and all I could think about was seeing her in person and hugging her to make her feel better.

When I asked them, they both gave me the concerned parent look, then they looked at each other as if saying You deal with him, no YOU deal with him.

Finally, my dad turned to me. "We'll think about it, son. It may not be in the budget, okay?"

I nodded and looked back down at my plate, but couldn't really eat anymore. Everyone knows that when a parent says we'll think about it, it's as good as a no.

The next day I tried to tell Leah I didn't wanna go anymore. It wasn't because of Bella, not completely. She was still going to her dance with Roman. It was that I didn't really like her enough to go to a dance with her. Isn't that what girlfriends and boyfriends do? Or was I just reading into it too much?

But then I saw her smiley face, and she told me how she'd just bought the perfect dress for Friday, and how she was so excited, and all I could think was Damn, I can't get out of it now and I hope she doesn't wear heels.

Friday snuck up on me. I didn't want it to. I'd only talked to Bella on Wednesday, and I was still feeling pretty bad. But when I saw Leah at the dance, I tried to smile for her so she wouldn't think I was a terrible date.

Really, the dance was a lot of fun. I remember on the permission slip, it said "no obscene dancing" and I had no idea what that meant, but there was none of that. It was mostly just everyone jumping and spinning and waving their arms and singing along to the songs. Mike came with some girl named Cheryl and Samuel came with a girl names Jessica. I felt kinda bad for Sam, because Jessica kept looking at Mike like she wanted to be with him. I don't think he noticed, or if he did, he didn't care.

But then the worst possible thing happened.

Right when I had accepted that maybe this night would be fun, and all the worrying wasn't worth it, the music changed.

No, please, not this song, I thought as a creepy voice whispered "I can be your hero."

Literally all the girls in the gym squealed and then sighed dreamily. They grabbed their respective dates and vultured them into a slow dance. Leah tapped my shoulder, smiling expectantly, as I watched the wallflowers back up even closer to the plaster walls. I wished I could join them.

I planted my hands on Leah's waste like they taught us in P.E. and she put hers on my shoulder. She was singing softly to the song and looking at me funny. I hope it wasn't because I smelled from dancing or riding my bike here. My bike was really cool by the way. I had found it on the side of the road, fixed it, and tricked it out. I was real proud of it.

Leah moved closer. I was glad she didn't wear heels since she was already two inches taller than me without them.

Since she was so close, I had to look at her. Her eyes were kinda pretty, really dark brown. They looked nice in the red and purple twinkle lights that hung on the wall.

Okay, she was like really close. Was she –?


"Yeah?" I replied, breathless. It was kind of hot in there. Why was it so hot?

"Can... I kiss you?"

Um uh jeez oh RED ALERT. What do I say?!

"Uh, sure."

Why did you say that?! Close your mouth, you idiot! You look like a fish!

She leaned in closer and closed her eyes. I did too, because I guess that was what I was supposed to do. Then I felt her lips. They were a little soft and smooshy, but not bad. They were salty from the pretzels at the snack bar, and she did this thing where she kissed real firm and then pulled back and did it again. I did it back. It felt good.

When we separated, we were both smiling really big. Then she wrapped her arms around my neck and laid her head on my shoulder.

I wondered if Bella had her first kiss that night. I guess I wouldn't have minded.

I didn't see her that summer for my birthday.

By the next year, Leah was my girlfriend.

I'm listening to Bon Iver. That fucking guy.

Speaking of fucking guys, I just recently read The Fault In Our Stars. I can't even look at the cover anymore without wanting to cry. Fuck you, John Green.

Anyway, new chap tomorrow. Do you guys like it? I hope so. Insecure sparklevamp is insecure. D:

Reviews are better than being your hero.