Who We Are: College

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What is Love? E.

Marie woke up frantic as she heard a strong knock. Half asleep and half awake she had difficulty understanding what was going on. As the second knock rang through her loft Marie paced to the door holding her head, she was tired and the lack of sleep had given her a headache- worsened by the echo of the knocking. She checked her digital clock on the counter of the kitchen, 10:31- it was a 24hr clock- and she grimaced as she noticed she had slept maybe an hour. Who could be visiting her so early? As she grabbed the knob of her door she thought of her manager- unlikely as they only talked when events or expos were scheduled, to which she had to attend. She had made it clear she would be taking a time for herself, though. As she flung the door open Marie made herself look as tough and angry as she could, ready to scream in anger to whom had waked her up- she wasn't in the best mood. But, as she stood on the doorway, door flung open, her expressions turned from tough and rigid to utter surprise and tenderness (feminine even). Her jaw dropped as her anger had knotted on her throat and choked at the vision that stood before her- Edd.

Edd: Good Morning Marie. Did i come at a bad time?

Marie stood frozen, her nails digging into the wooden door, she had only managed to close her mouth as her body tore itself at the dual impulse of beating him up and kissing him. Her eyes, soft and watery immersed into Edd's, who giggled and dropped his gaze- blushing slightly.

Edd: Maybe i should come in. I don't want anyone to look at you like that.

Edd had his cheeks flushed and tugged nervously at his black beanie, she adored that vulnerability of him. However, her mind quickly processed his words and she quickly half closed the door, covering her body. She had forgotten she had been painting, that she had only a White-paint stained- tank top on, with a black strapless laced bra and blue laced female boxers on. She felt stupid, hiding her body from her one love but she was proud, hence embarrassed.

Marie: Get in here!

She hissed in a low voice. It was audible enough for Edd to hear but not for anyone else- her anger palpable in her tone. Edd smiled, he had rarely seen human anatomy so bare (besides his own). he had to admit though, Marie had an incredible figure.

Edd: Sorry Marie, though i must say you have...

Though Edd was moving into her loft Marie was impatient, angry, surprised and anxious. She pulled him in by his collar. Edd stumbled a couple of steps in before regaining his balance and turned to watch Marie who had just closed the door and now leaned on it, looking at him through tired blue eyes.

Edd: You look exhausted.

Marie: No shit.

Marie sighed hard, she felt weak. She let her body slide down the door and sat leaning on it. It was still too early. A night of painting, of crying, of absolute expression... she felt drained. Marie closed her eyes and breathed in deeply, feeling how her mind battled the urge to slip into unconsciousness and sleep. As she leaned her head on the wooden door, feeling the hard material against her head, she felt warm, light and slowly she fell into a slumber.

Edd frowned as he sat next to Marie and lent his shoulder for her to rest on. It was a warm memory, one of many years ago- of high school and the times they spent together talking. He had always been an introvert, she had been an outcast and a rebel. Despite the complete opposite of their natures, they found each other's company as warm and… necessary. Looking back on those days Edd wished things could be that simple… or were they never simple to begin with? Edd sighed as he wondered since when was his life or life itself so complicated. He watched Marie sleep on his shoulder, the softness of her features, absolutely calm, the color in her cheeks and how she nuzzled his shoulder. Edd smiled and, with a grunt, carried her to the couch- no way he could carry her up a flight of stairs, not that strong. He tucked her with the blanket from her bedroom, placing a loving kiss on her forehead. As he stood over her, appreciating her beauty and wondering why he felt no carnal impulse, he made a call. He had a good memory, thankfully.

¿?: Alo? Avrei llamato a La Famiglia-dis is Ruzzo.

Edd: Hey Ruzzo, it's me Edd- we met yesterday?

Ruzzo: Ah! Yes, yes, Marie's ragazzo. I got ur order, all ready, you come?

Edd giggled. It was clear Ruzzo had difficulty speaking English. He was a true Italian.

Edd: Actually, change of plan Ruzzo. I think we'll make it a dinner.

Ruzzo: Ah! Very well, ok ok, you no worry carissimo. You tell us when you come, we will be ready.

Edd: Thank you, i appreciate your help immensely.

A loud boisterous laugh rang from the other side of the line.

Ruzzo: You are too kind carissimo. Marie was right.

Before Edd could ask on the meaning of such comment the call ended, followed by the blaring tone of the cellphone. Edd frowned, leaning on the back of the couch over Marie. It was difficult to imagine that such a beautiful woman would risk everything for him, that someone valued him THAT much. Edd choked a tear as these thoughts paced themselves through his mind. He wished he could correspond beyond simple affection- love eluded him.

Edd moved to Marie's kitchen. He had already made himself breakfast- Belgian waffles with strawberries- but he really doubted Marie had taken a bite since he left her yesterday. To his surprise he found Marie had her kitchen well stocked with all sorts of spices, ingredients, sauces and she hung a single red apron with the mantra "Eat. Pray. Love" on a hanger beside her fridge. There hung a framed photograph with a magnet- old, from a conventional film camera. As Edd placed the apron on, he appreciated the picture and felt himself whimper as a single tear rolled down his right cheek. It was a photo of almost 6 years ago, when the Cul de Sac was united, a summer, everyone smiling, each Kanker with their respective "Ed", a face of mischief on the girls and horror on the boys… it felt so far away.

Marie woke up to the extravagant aromas of someone well versed in cooking. The mixture of ingredients wafted the air of her loft, she smiled with her eyes closed. She stretched herself, quickly to find her left arm hitting the back cushions of her couch and her right arm dangling. As she got up, puzzled and confused, she tried to remember... WHO THE HELL WAS IN HER KITCHEN?! She calmed herself before grabbing a bat or umbrella for self-defense; if he or she was cooking, it meant it was someone she trusted. Marie sighed and quickly noticed her attire, dashing up to her bedroom and opting for a loose blue sweater and shorts. As she walked back down, she was met by a familiar voice and a delicious smell of meat.

¿?: I heard you go upstairs. You slept for 2 hours, are you ok?

Marie: Yeah… I, umm, was tired. Maybe some coffee will help me through the rest of today. What time is it?

Marie slowed her pace, she wanted to try and figure out whose voice was it. It was a man, but the sound of plates, pans, sizzling of food and running water from the sink made it hard to distinguish.

¿?: Nearly 1 in the afternoon, and i already made us coffee. It took me a while to get acquainted with your stock, you have so many things! I know you hate when people touch your stuff so i placed everything back in the exact spot. Lunch's also ready by the way.

Marie dashed down her stairs, there was only one person with such polite demeanor and so detail oriented.

Marie: EDD?!

Edd: Good afternoon. I made us Wellington beef with some cooked asparagus and a…

Edd wasn't allowed to finish his presentation as Marie walked around the counter, into the kitchen and kissed him firmly on the lips. Edd was surprised and the kissed ended before he could correspond to it, but he would've never expected what happened next. Marie, just after pushing him away from her, gave Edd a solid hard slap on his left cheek which watered his eyes and immediately left a crimson mark.

Edd: o-o-OW!?

Marie: You are mean! You are mean and an idiot and an asshole and, and, and…

Edd: W-w-w-what did i do?

Edd was trying to bite down the pain as he watched Marie. He was startled and confused as he cupped his burning cheek gently.

Marie: I came here for you! And, and you…you…

There was a long silence as both stared at each other. Marie's hair was a mess, her chest heaved in rage but she couldn't keep her rage burning as she saw Edd- with a burning crimson cheek- standing his ground, not a single tear- he had gotten tougher. Marie sighed, her anger gone, and she quickly watered a towel and approached Edd- barefooted she stood almost under his nose. She cupped his right cheek tenderly and gently tapped his hurt cheek with the moist, cool towel.

Marie: I'm sorry, i just… i was painting and…

Edd: It's ok, i know… a lot of emotions. Maybe too much, all at once, right?

Marie smiled and pressed her body against his as Edd smiled (grimacing with pain) and cupped her hand on his good cheek. Though the towel felt cool on his skin, he was tense.

Marie: I love you...

Marie continued to care for Edd's cheek as the silence settled between them. Edd stared at her, surprised and awed. Despite her being an artist and expressive, she had never used words to express her feelings. Marie's mind twirled and tore itself in fear and doubt: should she have said that to him? Why did she say those words? Did he not feel anything despite her confession? But, to her surprise, Edd was the one to break the silence.

Edd: I know...

Marie stared into his eyes, her eyes watering.

Edd: But, it's never that easy.

Marie dropped her gaze, her throat was becoming a knot.

Marie: I know you don't…. you don't…

Marie's voice became strained and she felt her eyes burn as she bit her lip to try and control herself. Edd surprised her again.

Edd: But, i do! I do… but, it's not the same Marie. Things have changed. You love me for who i was, how i was, the "me" of years back. I am not the same person...

Marie: You… you love me?

Edd: I haven't said that… i can't say it… it wouldn't be true. To love someone, you must know them… every detail, good and bad. And then… you must be willing to accept them, as they are. Even more, you'll risk your life for them, and you make the decision of sharing your life… of giving your life to and for them.

Marie stared wide-eyed and in awe as Edd lifted his head and stared back at her. He had never been so honest or expressive before… let alone speak of such a subject as love. Marie's mind swirled with millions of assumptions of how he could've gotten so wise. She felt jealousy, she felt hatred, she felt admiration and… she wanted him.

Edd: I think I'll be fine for now.

Edd moved the wet towel from his cheek as he said this and moved back to the counter. Marie saw how his cheek was still crimson, but she giggled noticing he was blushing at the same time.

Marie: Well, you get things ready as i go get the med kit.

Edd: Dont take too long, your food will get cold if you do.

Marie sprinted up the stairs to her bathroom and yelped as she saw how poorly arranged she looked and had allowed her…err… Edd to see her. She had his words ringing through her head and she felt them filled with wisdom. He was right, she couldn't be expecting anything from him… things weren't the same- they had changed. Marie smirked as she cleaned the smeared eyeliner from her face.

Marie: If he has changed, so have I… I will use everything I have learned and changed to get him.

She said this to her reflection as she repainted her eyes and a bit of shade on, nothing more. She combed her hair, making it smooth and chic again and she draped her attire a bit better: her short's rim right under her hip, barely showing a tattoo she had gotten; her sweater letting her right shoulder show and her underwear in place- keeping everything in form and together. She smiled at her reflection and felt butterflies in her stomach. A short giggle went through her.

Edd prepped the table as Marie went upstairs. To his standards, she was taking too long. He had already placed the mats, served the meal, placed the forks and knives, opened a wine bottle (Italian, 5 years, full body, rich aroma, soft flavor), left it to breathe, served 2 glasses for her and for him, and was now admiring her latest work (last night's).

Marie: What are you doing?

Edd smiled as he heard Marie's voice behind him and slowly turned towards her. Her work captivated him.

Edd: I was admiring your work. I must say, your work is simply…

Edd fell speechless as Marie stepped down from the last stair and walked towards him. She wasn't dressed up, nor had a lot of makeup, but she was a natural beauty. A really amazing and exceptional natural beauty Edd couldn't take his eyes off.

Marie: It's simply what?

Edd: Beautiful…

Edd coughed, trying to regain his composure. He hated when his body betrayed him.

Edd: Yes, it's beautiful, the piece, but more than that, it's simply perfect. You truly are a master, a prodigy… it's amazing.

Marie smiled behind him and walked to the beautifully adorned table with their meal. He was always the detail master.

Marie: Shame, that's the only thing amazing.

Edd: Marie! That's not fair!

Edd laughed slightly as Marie giggled while drinking from her wine glass.

Marie: Hey, your words, not mine.

Edd: Oh really?

Edd approached Marie and placed his glass on the table as he gazed into her beautiful eyes.

Edd: When did i ever say that?

Marie: You haven't complimented me… and, it's my birthday.

Marie pouted her lips, as she playfully stared back at him. She played with the wine glass in her hand, making the liquid move around its interior. Tension was building quickly between them. She loved the sensation and she bit her lip to avoid being the one who would make the first move… even though she wanted it. Edd also felt it, and it gnawed at his curiosity, and the possible explanations of why he felt suddenly this way…what actually sparked his desire? As Edd smiled and lost himself in Marie's eyes, he responded to hear plea.

Edd: Where do i start? Your beautiful eyes? Your amazing physique? How… stunning you are? How you just absorb the attention of a room with your presence? Or, the fact that you are very … sexy, chic, modern and attractive? Or that, your very character: strong, emotional, secure, serious yet playful… well, i could go on… but… you are… you are…

Their lips were inches away, neither knew when the distance had closed itself. Marie had her mouth gaping, incessantly, wanting… she was waiting, and it was killing her. She could feel her skin getting goose bumps, she wanted him to make the move. Edd felt how he slowly lost rational behavior and his most carnal instincts started overpowering him… and he was letting them. He was enjoying this moment, being with her, and he wondered how he had gotten to this point. The human mind was truly a mystery. Edd felt the urge to experiment, not the limits of self-control, but those of letting go.

Edd: W-W-What will we do with the… food?

It was a whisper, but they were so close it was perfectly audible.

Marie: It can wait.

She placed the glass on the table and fought every urge of throwing herself at him. They stared at each other for what seemed like ages, their noses rubbing each other with their breaths. Edd seemed so composed while Marie felt an electric shock run through her body with every touch of their skin. Slowly, Edd allowed himself to close what was left of the distance between them and, for the first time, he kissed someone.

Marie moaned as electricity ran through her and she was marveled at how contrary even his kisses were to hers: tender, soft, light… they were addictive. His hands, trembling, moved through her body, they melted her, they explored her… true scientist's hands trying to discover her every secret. She didn't want to ruin this new ecstasy, she wanted him to take her… it felt so much better. To her surprise, Edd was silent and he had his eyes closed as he kissed her, as he explored her. To her, he looked so angelic, they were both enjoying this. Edd kissed her neck, her collar bone, her shoulders, he slowly covered every exposed skin she had without taking anything off her. Marie was losing her mind and her last rational thought came when they somehow fell on the couch. Had they been moving?

Edd: This is new.

Marie breathed heavily and felt Edd's fingers caress very softly her skin right under her womb…it was where she had gotten her tattoo.

Edd: A key?

Marie: I'll tell you later.

Her voice was more of a moan, which made Edd laugh. Edd slowly moved the rim of her short down, Marie moaned loudly, she was going mad at how delicate he was, at how he kissed her skin, at how he was playing with her with his kisses and caresses.

Edd: Tell me about it, I'm curious.

Marie: What?

Marie was still out of breath, even though Edd had stopped touching her. She hated that the ecstasy had stopped.

Edd: I want to know why.

Marie: Why now?

Edd: I want to know you. Where you have been, where you have gone… that tattoo has a story. I want to know it.

Marie was about to protest, but she quickly remembered his words from before. She sighed and sat up to see him face to face. He looked just as out of breath as her. It made her giggle.

Marie: Well, seems like we'll actually try that food of yours.

Edd: I'll go get it.

They both giggled as Edd brought everything from the dining table, to the glass table in front of the couch. Edd kissed her one last time as he sat next to her with his glass, Marie moaned loudly into his mouth.

Edd: So… tell me everything.

Marie: Ok…

Marie took a deep breath.

Marie: Well… After i left you. After prom...

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