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Summer Blows Away

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The beach house was her favorite place, a reward for hard work and diligent training.  A week at the end of summer of being lazy and getting sunburnt and sneaking out at night to swim in the moonlight.  Pancakes in the morning and sand between her toes and it was the only part of summer she liked.

The bonfire was Peter's idea.  He always knew when there was a party.  Nick called him their social coordinator and Peter laughed and said they needed one.  She had tried to weasel her way out, stay at the house but they grabbed her hands and pulled her along with them, laughing as they walked down the beach.  She was getting better at acting normal but crowds and strangers still made her nervous, made her over-talk about equations or game theory or something else no one wanted to hear.  Peter slung his arm around her shoulders and expounded on broadening her social horizons and Nick held her hand and let his amusement wash over to her in calming waves.

Peter split off from them immediately, greeting friends and laughing.  She trailed after Nick who headed over to a group of skateboarders.  She flopped down on the sand and leaned up against a thick clump of seagrass, watched the fire.  A few kids waved to her, called out a greeting and she waved back.  Sammy dropped down next to her and handed her a beer.

"Mmm… that's probably not a good idea."  She wrinkled her nose and tried to hand it back to him.

"Relax."  He grinned at her and leaned close to her ear.  "It's orange Crush.  I know you don't really drink so I thought this would be all sneaky like."  He winked at her and she couldn't stop the grateful smile.

"Thanks."

He shrugged and leaned back, taking a long pull on his own bottle that was certainly not orange Crush.  "So, you're just going to sit here all night?"

She shrugged back at him, looked down at her feet, sat the soda down in the sand next to her, twisting the bottle to dig a little cup holder.
"You guys are going home tomorrow?"

"Yeah.  Classes start pretty soon."  It was almost the truth, classes and training being pretty much interchangeable in her mind.
He nodded.  "I wish you lived here all year."

"Me too," and she meant it.  She smiled at him and could feel the decision as he made it.  He leaned towards her and she forced herself not to move.  When his lips hit hers the jumble of emotion was jarring and strange and just too much.  She pulled back from him quickly and was slightly reassured that he was blushing just as much as she was.

"Um…"

"Sorry…"

They both stuttered to a halt and she chewed on her lower lip trying to figure out what to say.  I can't kiss you because it freaks me out didn't seem like it would go over very well.

"Well, um… I'll see you next summer?"  He sounded vaguely hopeful and she tried to smile.

"Yeah.  Next summer."

He muttered a goodbye and threaded his way through the crowd.  She drew her knees up to her chest and rested her chin on her crossed arms.

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She was trying to shove everything back in her bag, trying to work out how a week's worth of clothing had come out of the bag and expanded to the point that it wouldn't fit back into the bag.  She shook out a t-shirt and frowned at the sand that came off of it and calculated how much sand would make the difference between her clothes fitting in the bag and the Tetris-like nightmare she was fighting now.  She felt him come up the hall and stop in the doorway and smiled in anticipation.

In a drawer in her room back home she had a present for every summer they visited the beach house.  Shells, chunks of sea glass, a perfectly round stone the color of her eyes.  She never asked why he gave them to her and when the training was hard, when her muscles and mind ached to the point of collapse she would pull them out and lose herself in the memories.

When she turned he held up and gold coin and walked it across the back of his fingers.  After a few passes he tossed the coin in the air, caught it and displayed his empty hand to her.

"Oh, awesome!"

He caught her wrist and dropped the coin into her palm with his other hand.  She exaimned the coin for a moment before smiling at him.  "Thanks."

"Welcome."

She felt his intentions the moment before he moved, shifting towards her, stroking his thumb across the inside of her wrist.  He tasted like maple syrup and and ice cream and the soft slide of his lips across hers made her heart pound.  She pulled away and dropped her eyes to where his hand held her wrist, her fist clenched around the coin.  Her mind offered up Nick's face and notions of betrayal and they parted guiltily.  Neither of them could meet each other's eyes after that and she was glad to crawl in the backseat of the big sedan and be driven back to the place she considered to be home.

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They had stopped sneaking out of their rooms years earlier.  When it became clear that the alarms and safeguards were no challenge the game lost its appeal.  She waved at Vanessa as she passed the security station at the end of the hall.  Nick's door was unlocked and he was hunched over lesson plans at his desk.  They were refining the training process for recruits and Nick was helping with the younger ones, his infectious enthusiasm an asset.  They were soldiers now and were both settling into their new responsibilities well.  She leaned against the back of his chair, pulled the pen from his hand and closed the folder.

"Its still summer."

He turned and grinned up at her.  "For like, three hours.  That doesn't even count."

"Yes, it does."

"You hate summer.  You get bored and you bitch constantly about how you can't wait for fall.  What gives?"

She shrugged turned away from him.  He caught her wrist in his hand and pushed gently against the guarded surface of her thoughts and she wasn't trying to keep him out, really, but nervousness was making her retreat behind her walls.  "Olive?"

She shifted from one foot to the other, lost her never completely.  "Sorry.  It's nothing.  I'll let you work."

She headed for the door.  He rose and anchored her, letting her reach the length of their arms before pulling her back.  He cupped her cheek in his free hand and smiled at her and his eyes were bright and familiar, comforting and she smiled too as the feelings circled between them.  He leaned down and when his lips met hers he felt like sparks.  She grinned against his mouth, hummed happily as his hand slid from her cheek to her hair.  She looped her arms around his neck and the part of her mind that calculated everything noted that they fit together perfectly.