Kevin: Are you fucking crazy?!
Lyon: Eyes on the road, retard!
Both boys breathed heavily as Kevin sped his father's sedan back to the house. Lyon was wide-eyed, alert and tense, his nail digging into the soft leather that covered the seats of the car. The trip had been a 15 min ride to the stream, a distance far too short to speed through. Night was already covering the sky, the first stars casting their twinkling light, and Kevin sped through the suburban streets like a highway. Kevin had been shifting his attention between the road and Lyon, as they had begun to discuss what he had meant with "Go all out" back at the edge of the woods near the creak. Lyon, ever more cautious and responsible, was at the brink of panic mode watching them speed down the street, houses blurring past them and he was involuntarily pressing his foot down… trying to find the brakes. With a bit of more arguing and the screech of tires, they entered the round dead-end of the Cul D'Sac. They sat in silence as Kevin drove slowly and responsibly (without exceeding 10 km/hr) to his house. The garage door was rather noisy in their absolute silence and the rev of the engine followed as the sedan drove smoothly inside. Lyon practically jumped out of the car when Kevin parked it.
Kevin: It's a stupid idea!
Lyon: You are just too much of a pussy to do it.
Kevin: Fuck you asshole!
Lyon: Just do it!
Kevin opened the garage door as Lyon's voice rang.
Mrs. Barbs: Boys?!
Her voice rang from the kitchen making Kevin immediately drop his into a near whisper.
Kevin: Shut up, my mom might hear us. We will talk about this later. Hey mom! We're home!
The last two were said much more loose and loud as Kevin turned the corner and hugged his mother. Lyon shook his head slightly as he let out a sigh. He greeted Mrs. Barbs and they moved into the kitchen.
Mrs. Barbs: How was the drive honey? Was the creek still there?
Kevin: Where was it going to go mom?
Lyon: It was very pleasant, though our stay was short because of the time, Mrs. Barbs.
Mrs. Barbs: Oh, I can imagine Lyon. Kevin has never been very punctual, even since a kid.
Lyon: Oh I am very acquainted with his punctuality and level of irres… OW.
Kevin socked Lyon on the arm as he glared at him, his elbow over the counter and holding his chin up.
Kevin: I am fine mom. I'm passing all of my classes and I am part of the basketball team.
Mrs. Barbs: Really?!
Mrs. Barbs smooched and hugged her son in a rather…excessive, motherly way. Kevin struggled (not with his full force) to get out of his mother's embrace, but he soon resigned and hugged her back- his face was serious. He was always annoyed that his parents were surprised every time he managed to get good grades… made him feel stupid. Yet, he had never voiced this and, once again, smiled as his mother let him go and said nothing more.
An hour or more passed with Mrs. Barbs, Lyon and Kevin talking about the creak, about the Cul, Kevin's childhood friends and about Thanksgiving (tomorrow). His father had arrived halfway through the topics and Mrs. Barbs and Lyon were so enthralled on the subjects that only Kevin greeted his father with a hand shake. It had always been that way, tough, manly and strict. His father had made him into an athlete and though he was always very clear in that he loved him, he rarely hugged him. Kevin remembered most of the times he was hugged by him were after winning a game, where his father would hug him and left him up in the air, or place him on his thick and muscular arm/shoulder with a typical "That's my son!". As his father asked on what the "two ladies" were talking about (which made Kevin chuckle), Kevin told him about the trip to the creek and how they had started talking about the past. His father smiled at him and after pressing him close with his free arm, he went upstairs. Kevin sighed and walked back to his mother and Lyon as they laughed.
Mrs. Barbs: What would you like to eat, Kevin?
Kevin: I don't know, what do we have on the fridge?
Mrs. Barbs looked at him questioningly as Lyon laughed once again.
Lyon: You weren't paying attention, right?
Kevin: Dad just came home.
Mrs. Barbs: Oh good, now I can ask him too.
Kevin: About what?
Mrs. Barbs and Lyon: Tomorrow.
Mrs. Barbs: It's Thanksgiving and I want to make it special. You can invite anyone you want from the Cul too.
Lyon: And, there's meatloaf in the fridge.
Kevin grabbed a plate and moved to the fridge.
Kevin: I don't know mom, everyone will be celebrating it with their own families.
Mrs. Bars: Well, if anyone comes over afterwards I'd be glad to fix them a plate.
Kevin opened the fridge and grabbed some of the meatloaf, moving to the microwave.
Kevin: I don't know, I could ask.
Mrs. Barbs looked at Lyon as he walked behind Kevin with his own empty plate and gave him a slight nudge. Lyon served himself some meatloaf as Mrs. Barbs moved next to Kevin and whispered.
Mrs. Barbs: What is he talking about?
Kevin: He's just bothering me mom.
Mrs. Barbs: Hm, he touches you a lot.
Kevin: He's my roommate mom, almost like a brother.
Mrs. Barbs: Does he know that?
The sound of the microwave beeping made Mrs. Barbs jump, startled, and to quickly laugh as she walked out of the kitchen.
Mrs. Barbs: Well, think about it honey; and, don't forget to wash the dishes.
As the boys heard Mrs. Barbs walk up the stairs, Lyon grinned at Kevin who slightly sulked on his seat on the counter and ate slowly.
Lyon: Looks like my plan is already coming into place on its own.
Kevin: Shut up.
Lyon: Dude, it's the best way to end this now.
Kevin: End what?
Lyon: Your suffering, your denial, your fears…your doubts.
Kevin placed his fork down and rubbed the back of his neck. He looked out the window, at Edd's house.
Kevin: You are a real pain in the ass.
Edd: Thanks Eddy.
Eddy: See ya tomorrow Double D!
Edd and Marie stood side by side on the sidewalk as they saw Eddy drive around the Cul and stop in front of Nazz's house. They both giggled as a rather short and baggy figure opened the door and ran to Eddy. Nazz had always been rather sensitive to cold climate, always wearing sweaters before others and dressing with various layers to stay warm. Marie rested her head on Edd's shoulder as they watched Eddy go inside the house; they followed his example.
Inside the house, Marie and Edd dined with Edd's parents and talked rather briefly of each other's day. Though Edd's parents were courteous and asked about their visit to Marie's siblings, the topic ended far sooner than anyone could've debriefed the events of the day and changed to his parent's jobs. Edd was used to it: the lack of attention, the somewhat selfish and egotistical attitude of both of them and the high expectations from their one and only offspring. Both scientists, they worked on par at the same laboratory but each in a different department. His father was a researcher, finding and studying new fields for the company's products. His mother was a developer, always finding better and faster ways to make existing products or to improve them. They talked about their earliest experiments, tests, debated over the ethical issues over some methods and technical issues in others… it quickly became boring. Marie tried to pay attention to Edd's parents talk, but she neither understood what the terms they were using were, nor did she actually care. She looked over at Edd, he was halfway through his food when Marie had already finished her plate of lasagna. Edd simply looked at his plate, his face rather serious, idle and his fork moved in slow motion from his mouth to the lasagna and back.
Marie: Edd, are you ok?
Marie's voice was a whisper as she placed her hand over the one he had resting beside the plate. Edd quickly shook his head and looked at her, smiling slightly.
Edd: Yes, I'm fine. I'm sorry my parents are boring you. They've… always been this way.
Marie looked at Edd's parents, both in a rather logical and cold war of arguments. She frowned. She softly stroked Edd's hand, thinking of how it must've been like when he was a kid. Despite being beside her, if felt as if the space of table between her and Edd's parents was enormous.
Marie: It's ok… I'm not really paying attention.
Edd: Yeah… me neither.
Marie looked at Edd, his eyes were gloomy and looked at his parents in a rather longing and sad expression. Marie picked up her plate and his and moved to the kitchen, stopping on the doorway and nodding him to follow her. Edd smiled, a painful and small smile, as he got up and followed her.
Inside the kitchen, Edd saw Marie washing her dish. He noticed his own plate stood beside the microwave, with half of his lasagna still uneaten. He sighed and pulled the plastic wrap from one of the cupboards. He proceeded to wrap his plate when he felt a warm and tender body pressing against his back. Two feminine and girly hands moved slowly up his torso, feeling his rather flat body with no muscle mass. He was lean, not bulky and had chosen to be toned instead of strong. But, he enjoyed the caress and felt his body being manipulated by the hands, turning him around and pulling his head close to Marie. They kissed, softly, deeply as Marie moved one hand under his beanie, caressing his soft short hair, and the other behind his neck, pulling him closer.
Marie: You ok?
Edd: Just a bit worried.
Their voices were whispers as they were face to face and connected at their pelvis, Edd embraced Marie lightly as she had her hands dangling behind his neck. Edd smiled and swayed his body slightly, making them move in unison.
Edd: I wanted to make tomorrow special, maybe cook a turkey or something. I usually go over to Eddy's since my parents work or forget… thought it'd be different since…
Edd's words choked on his throat as he looked into Marie's only uncovered eye. It was bright, half closed, looking at him with complete and undivided attention, with absolute affection and desire.
Marie: I can help… maybe we can change things this year.
Marie: I'll help!
She said this with a smile as she slapped him on the chest playfully. They laughed briefly.
Marie: Besides, I bet Eddy will help out.
Edd: Yeah, I guess so…
Edd's gaze went idle as he remembered Eddy didn't particularly like Thanksgiving and that he always invited him and Ed over so he wouldn't have to deal with his brother or parents. It was always one of two scenarios, a rather gloomy Thanksgiving where Eddy's parents prepared a nice diner with a big turkey and various other meals… but no brother. Or, Eddy's brother was home and everyone but the Ed's pampered him and tried to sway him into getting a job.
Eddy had grown from admiration of his brother, to rivalry, to disgust. Edd had to admit Eddy was a real economical and entrepreneurial genius, able to make a complete business plan in only hours or days. His brother was… the same, and yet different. Eddy had managed his way to college, socialized and made connections with a broad spectrum of people and started many plans. Most failed, some boomed and quickly dyed out and it was just recently… with Nazz, that he had focused his skills in a completely legit and secure business. His brother… he used such gift for other means. Laundering, contraband, tax evasion, scamming, cheating, there was little his brother hadn't done time for in the economics department. Thanksgivings were either a nice moment of family reunion when he managed to serve his time, or it revolved on Eddy's family waiting for his call from jail. It hadn't torn the family apart… but it had marked Eddy forever.
Marie: Double D?
Edd shook his head, waking up from his trance.
Edd: Sorry, I was just…
Marie pressed a finger right on his forehead and smiled.
Marie: You do that a lot.
Edd smiled as his parents came into the kitchen, placed the dishes beside the sink and asked them about their plans tomorrow. Edd stumbled on the words to tell his parents he wanted a family Thanksgiving, making Marie quite exasperated and to simply blurt the plan out. Edd's parents chuckled and promised they'd try to be there for his cooking… his mother even praised him. Edd smiled, a warm smile as he thanked Marie with a sincere and lustless kiss on her cheek. Her face burned red as she saw him walk to the sink and diligently scrub the dishes clean. She smiled, her eyes twinkling as she approached him, stood by his side and helped him clean the dishes in an assembly line: clean and rinse, clean and rinse.
Edd woke up on the guest bed, he was still sleepy and proceeded to stretch his body. He quickly opened his eyes, stunned… his beanie was missing. He quickly calmed down as he shifted his body and felt an arm on his waist and some movement at his right. Marie had once again crept into his bed, only this time she had caught him asleep and she was wearing more… conservative pajamas. Long pants with wool on the inside, a white tank top with a woolen sweater which had one of her shoulders bare do to its huge size (it extended even past her hand, folding even once), she wore thick cotton colorful socks and had his beanie on her head, pulled down to cover her ears and stopping over her eyes. She squirmed closer to him, letting out a soft moan in protest. Edd had slept with a long sleeved, thick, cotton shirt, long and thick pajama pants, and had started out with his beanie, a rather black one made of wool. He giggled looking at Marie, curled up like a ball, pressing herself closer to him. She was sound asleep, the hand that wasn't around Edd's waist was pressed up against her mouth and nose, making her look like a small child sucking her thumb. Edd caressed her head for a moment before leaving bed, putting his slippers with the furry inside and grabbing from his suitcase another woolen, navy and purple beanie.
Edd walked up the stairs to find his parents already eating breakfast, each with a newspaper covering their faces. His mother had opted for fruits and honey, while his father grabbed a toast with butter on it. Edd sighed as he walked into the dinner and greeted both of his parents with a kiss and a hug, each responding with a simple "Good morning". He was used to it and though his parents asked about his plans for the day, and an explanation on why Marie was never in her bed, the talk was scarce. Edd had opted to making pancakes, which he cooked skillfully and quickly, making his parents smile; they left each giving him a kiss on the forehead and a "See you later". Edd was left arranging the table, placing the honey at the center, beside the plate with a stack of 5 pancakes, one plate for Marie and one for him on opposite side of the table, orange juice filled halfway on a glass for each, a cup with cubes of sugar also at the center and a cup of hot black coffee he personally brewed on the family simple coffee maker beside each plate. He saw Marie walk through the archway just as he was finished placing the silver, she looked half asleep, dragging her feet as she walked and rubbing her right eye with the sweater covering her right hand completely.
Edd: Good morning Marie!
Marie: I got cold!
She leaned on the archway as she yawned, covering her mouth. Her tone had been childish and in protest, yet playful and sensual. She giggled, walking over to Edd.
Marie: You wake up too early.
Marie hugged him, trying to sink and press every part of her body on his. She was warm, Edd smiled when he hugged her, a half forced smile as he felt his heart sulk… so close and yet so far.
Edd: I had to make breakfast. I don't suppose you were going to wake up and cook.
Marie playfully pulled him down by grabbing the back of his neck. Her eyes, though still sleepy, were filled with a new, playful and provocative energy.
Marie: Are you saying I can't cook?
Edd: You make great spaghetti sauce.
They both laughed out loud, embracing each other as Marie slapped his chest playfully at the comment. They sat down and had breakfast, Marie always peeking at Edd and laughing girlishly. Edd struggled to even savor a bite as Marie giggled constantly and was always teasing him by rubbing her fuzzy feet on his legs… slowly and provocatively. Between stares, teases and laughs they finished breakfast.
Eddy: Ugh, girls.
Nazz punched Eddy on the shoulder, making him flinch as he laughed slightly. It was already noon, Edd fidgeted in place, anxious to go shopping. He had called Eddy to drive him to the city and he had placed the only condition that Nazz would go too… Edd didn't protest. However, as luck would have it, Marie had taken her time dressing… Edd even woke her up twice as she had balled up in bed. Edd was pretty stressed as he bit his nails, a bad habit he could never get rid of. Nazz and Eddy sat on the couch beside the door, close and holding hands. They talked secretly and laughed and Eddy snickered. To Edd, they looked like a complete couple, supportive, fun, similar and different… it fascinated and hurt him. Nazz wore a thick brown jack with a hood with fur, a brown woolen sweater underneath and full winter clothes underneath, paired with thick black pants, black leggings underneath and brown boots with all of its inside filled with fur. Eddy, teasing her and holding her, wore simple a black casual cotton overcoat, a thick navy vest and a long sleeved, navy, turtle neck shirt, paired with dark jeans, warmers underneath, and black shoes (casual, yet elegant). Edd wore an elegant winter attire as well, green pants with warmers underneath, simple, red, nice shoes and he was holding a dark green thick jacket. He fixed the beanie he had put on when he woke up, making sure it covered his hair.
Edd sighed, things weren't working out as he had planned. He took a seat on one of the sofas as he frowned and decided to look at Eddy and Nazz, who had a private whisper conversation between them. Edd smiled, losing himself in analyzing the details of their chemistry. He felt mesmerized at how the body could act so differently and so out of "ourselves" when placed in certain and different situations, how our very genes seem to bend in different ways, our mental processing becoming different than we usually are. Biology, psychology… two keys to the same door and yet neither fit perfectly… the eternal mystery.
Edd gasped in surprise when a hand pressed on his shoulder, snapping him from his trance. Marie was sitting on the arm of the couch, looking at him, a warm smile on her face. She had black, fit pants on with black leggings underneath, crème colored shoes with a black bow and black sole, a crème colored woolen sweater with a wide collar which showed her right shoulder and the nude colored top she had underneath. Simple makeup and her neatly combed hair made Edd just lose his words and look at her. She giggled and kissed him softly on the lips as she motioned his head to move.
Marie: Thought you were in a hurry.
Edd: U-Um, We, yeah, We need to go.
Eddy, Nazz and Marie laughed as Edd had a pink blush slowly color his cheeks. Soon, he joined in on the laughter, stopping only as the screech of tires blared from outside, followed by a couple of muffled voices. Everyone looked at the door and moved to the window in absolute curiosity.
Eddy: What the…
Outside, a blue SUV stood in front of Edd's house and May, Ed and Lee walked around the completely open car, taking things out, moving heavy kitchen equipment and communicating with shouts… Ed was mute just carrying the heaviest stuff. As Edd, Eddy and Nazz stood with awestruck and confused faces looking out the window, Marie opened the door wide open.
May squealed girlishly for a long time before running up to Marie and hugging each other. Lee grinned and walked over to her sisters and joined on the hug… Ed stood still just holding the heavy equipment. Edd, Eddy and Nazz walked outside with rather confused looks, but proceeded to greet everyone.
Edd: Umm... how should I say this…
Eddy: Why are you guys…
Nazz jumped to cover Eddy's mouth, her great strength from doing so many sports paying off as she kept his mouth shut.
Nazz: It is a big and pleasant surprise to see you guys around here.
Nazz let go of Eddy and looked at him with scolding eyes.
Eddy: Geez, you wanna kill me?!
Nazz: What have I told you?!
Edd giggled as the couple quarreled quietly as he stood beside Ed and helped lead everyone inside.
Edd: Please, come in. Umm… what is all…
May: To cook silly.
Lee: We called Marie and she mentioned you throwing a big dinner for Thanksgiving.
Ed: I LOVE Double D's and May's cooking.
May: Yes he does.
May pinched his cheeks and kissed him quickly as Ed bent down to put the trays and equipment down in the kitchen. She quickly skipped away to get more stuff as Ed walked behind her with a huge smile.
Edd: Dinner… Marie?
Marie: The more the merrier?
She walked up to Edd and kissed him on the cheek as she whispered.
Marie: Sorry, they called and I didn't know what to say… they are my only family.
Edd sighed and hugged her, whispering in her ear.
Edd: Don't worry.
As he let go he raised his voice slightly looking how quickly the dinner and kitchen were getting stacked with stuff.
Edd: But I don't think I have possibly enough space in here to set all this up.
Marie, May and Lee: True, we'll just have to improvise.
The Kankers laughed as they said this in unison… an occurrence that hadn't happened since high school.
Nazz: Well, we could use the backyard. If it's ok with you, Double D.
Edd: Guess so.
They moved to the rear of the house as Edd slid a glass sliding door to reveal his backyard. It wasn't huge, but it could fit a couple of tables and all the equipment. The grass was still green, though a bit frostbit, the large tree on the right corner had lost most of its leaves and they were piled at its base, a cold breeze swept a couple off into the November sky.
Eddy: I'll guess…
Edd: We'll need tables, chairs…
Eddy: Yeap, should've guessed.
Ed: I know where we can get some.
Sarah: Way ahead of you, brother.
Lee, Nazz and Edd: Sarah?
Marie and Eddy: SARAH?!
May and Ed: SARAH!
Her words were cut short as she was smothered in a big embrace by Ed and May, Ed even lifting both up at the end. Her scholar attire substituted for a thick navy jacket, a checkered blue and black long sleeved cotton vest and a white, collared, long sleeved and warm shirt underneath, paired with tight jeans and warmers and shoes with wool around the rim. However, she wore elegant, minimalistic glasses.
Sarah: Are you demented?! You nearly broke my bones, Ed!
Ed: I'm sorry sis.
May: Auch. Hey, are you going to help me? Little sis.
Sarah: Shush, I'm really not used to that.
Lee: May, don't push it.
Edd: What do you mean you are… already ahead?
Nazz: Well I did see the houses with more lights on last night.
Eddy: You mean…
Sarah: I called the rest, seems like we're having a huge "get together".
Edd: Oh my...
Marie: Sounds… great.
Marie moved over to Edd's side and hugged his arm. Surprised Edd simple smiled as he saw Marie and caressed her head a bit, making her kiss him on the cheek. Edd looked at everybody and how things started to seem a bit like the old times. Ed was moving the heavy equipment around while Sarah started with all the electronics and fixing up connections to ensure both safety and efficiency (apparently electronics and mechanics had become her areas of skill). Edd smiled and helped May prepare most of the kitchen appliances, both inside and outside. Marie and Nazz helped settle all the burners outside while tables were brought in, they weren't too heavy for the girls to manage, giggling as they did. That was probably the reason why Lee was shouting and bossing around, organizing the place, while Eddy had disappeared with his car… probably and hopefully to get the tables and rest of stuff.
As the day passed and the sun started to settle May, Nazz, Sarah and Edd had taken up kitchen duty while Lee, Marie and Ed had taken Lee's car to the city and buy some… drinks. May, as a chef, had quickly organized the four of them into areas of work. Sarah and Nazz got the "mundane" chore (according to them) of making the side dishes: mashed potato, mashed sweet potato, Turkey filling, sweet corn, gravy and salad. Edd dealt with deserts, opting for apple pie, pumpkin pie and lemon cheesecake, and May took on the cooking of the turkey… which she had previously started at home. It was a fun atmosphere and everybody was moving and helping each other in moving finished dishes outside to the two long tables Sarah and Eddy had gotten from their houses. Thankfully, May had brought practically everything for a buffet. As Edd finished with his pies, setting them aside on the fridge to bake after the turkey was done, he moved to the backyard. The girls had nicely organized the place, a mesmerizing and heartwarming view. Sarah was standing on a collapsible stair mounting the last strands of lights which extended over the backyard, she had apparently and rather quickly extended wires around all the perimeter to do so. May and Nazz organized and lit all the burners on the left side of the sliding door, creating an elegant and simple order for people to serve. The screech of tires, shouts and squeals made everyone smile. The missing members were back. However, as the voices approached the house, everyone grew curious as new voices rang from the front lawn and made their way to the back.
Ed was the first to move in, carrying a table under each arm, followed by Lee and Marie who each carried 2 packs of 12 beers (48 in total) and Eddy was the last to move in, carrying one side of another long table.
Jimmy: Calm down Eddy!
Jimmy, a tall, slim figure with the same hair as always extended his arms to receive a running Sarah. It was a loving hug, but not one of a couple, for obvious reasons. The rest of the girls rushed to greet him and hug him, leaving Edd last who gave him a short hug, nervous and uneasy. He seemed…normal. Dressed similar to Edd, but with white pants and a pink undershirt, with a purple sweater, to Edd, he was same little Jimmy- just as fragile, just as insecure and just as nervous around all the older guys. No braces though. Edd giggled as he remembered his image of a scandalous and fabulous Jimmy when he had read from Sarah that Jimmy had confessed he was gay. However, soon all the commotion was stopped when Eddy rose his voice, still holding just one end of the table.
Eddy: Hey, some help here!?
Johnny: I got you Eddy.
Everyone gasped as Johnny, muscular and fit, slightly taller than Eddy, walked in with a bag of disposable plates, forks, knives, handkerchiefs, cups and table sheets over one shoulder and still lifted the other end of the table with his other hand.
Johnny: Hey guys!
As Edd took charge and mounted the tables with Eddy, Lee and Marie, the rest greeted Johnny with great enthusiasm. Do to his rather vivid imagination and creation of his best friend plank, his parents had moved to another city with him. Contact with him had been scarce, and Edd knew very little of his life. One thing was for sure, no one really expected him to ever show up again in the Cul.
Speaking of prodigies, Johnny had long time ceased to interact and talk with or about plank. Probably because of age, but as he grew, his imagination projected into other fields. Last thing Edd heard from him, he was studying animation in LA, and something about a great gig. He was rather handsome, bald, a nice dark skin tone, fit and muscular body, he wore a thick black jacket with a black, muscle fit, turtle neck, long sleeved shirt, black pants and black boots. He laughed and greeted everyone, moving to help with everything they were doing. However, his presence was longer appreciated than Jimmy's (who had moved aside with Sarah to talk and help her), but shortened when a noisy racket of metal walked in.
Rolf: Move, Move, Move! My grandfather sent me this pork and I have prepared it like they do every winter season in my old country. We must cook it now!
With that Rolf slammed 4 shovels on the ground, which made Edd grimace. However, his protest was drowned as everyone moved to greet and hug Rolf, who smiled but remained resolved with the task at hand. He was tall, slightly shorter than Ed, fit, lean and still as eccentric as always. Though he was dressed with common winter clothes, he quickly took of his jacket put an impermeable apron on, taking a large butcher knife from his jacket on the floor. Nobody was surprised as he did this and sunk the blade in a large wrapped package he had carried and left behind him. Rotten eggs, sweat, boiled Brussel sprouts, the smell was horrifying, indescribable and suffocating as everyone ran to the other side of the backyard, still being able to smell and savor the horrifying stench from the package. Rolf turned around, a hair pin on his nose as he spoke up once again.
Rolf: We need to bury this and cook it, now!
No questions were asked as Eddy, Johnny and Ed ran to get the other 3 shovels and dug a pit. After setting a fire inside, dropping some rocks Rolf had also brought and covering the wrapped package in tinfoil, the "pig" was dropped inside and covered up. Everyone gave a sigh of relief, and grimaced as they smelled their clothes, slightly impregnated with the stench… Jimmy puked on the corner. Everyone laughed. For a group that hadn't seen each other in years, they seemed older, mature and just the same as back then. Soon everyone agreed that they'd come back in an hour, after changing clothes and taking a bath… only Edd, Marie, Nazz and Eddy stayed. They stood outside, watching the beautifully prepared tables, illuminated by candle light and Sarah's dangling Christmas lights. The girls each rested their head on their man's shoulder, Eddy had already popped the first beer of the night, while Edd kept to a cup of cranberry juice.
The sun was gone, night had begun to cover the sky with its stars, the wind was scarce but the temperature was slowly dropping. Nazz shivered noisily and they laughed as Eddy kissed her forehead and hugged her closer. Suddenly, Edd felt his mind jolt, a memory… someone...
Edd: We are forgetting someone.
The other three looked at him with questioning glances, Nazz was the only one to react.
Eddy: Who are…
Marie: I don't get it.
Edd took a deep breath and kissed Marie on the forehead.
Edd: Kevin isn't here.
Eddy: Ugh, do we have to.
Nazz's tone was quiet, almost saddened, Eddy quickly turned his head to her and frowned. Marie, frowned as well and nuzzled Edd's neck as she whispered.
Marie: Must we invite him?
Edd: We must, it's his choice to come.
Nazz: It wouldn't be right to not…invite him.
Everyone looked at Nazz, her eyes were a bit sad, but her tone was calm and serene.
Eddy: Honey, are you sure.
Nazz: He is part of this group… regardless of how it was back then. He was my best friend. We can't just… forget those who have accompanied us.
Eddy kissed her on the cheek. Edd and Marie looked at each other. Marie give a single nod with a sigh and smiled up at Edd.
Marie: I'll manage.
Nazz: We must at least try. No one likes being ignored… or left out.
Edd: We will.
Edd took out his cellphone, he smiled.
Edd: He'll come.
He proceeded to type.
Lyon: You are absolutely fucking useless, mate.
Lyon shouted from Kevin's bedroom as he was going through Kevin's closet, picking a piece out and putting it over his body, checking to see what worked and what was… dreadful. He sighed in frustration, Kevin's closet was impossible to find a good match up for tonight's event. He, was already dressed: a simple gray cardigan with a checkered black and gray scarf tied like a tie around his neck with a muscle, turtleneck, long sleeved black cotton shirt, paired with dark blue jeans, warmers underneath, and black shoes with fur on the rim. Kevin was in the shower, doing god knew what since he was taking too long. Lyon was exasperated as he looked around Kevin's room.
It was a nice time capsule where one could appreciate everything Kevin had done in his earlier years. Looking through the pictures, the medals, the trophies, Lyon stopped as he noticed a picture of the Cul. Everyone was on it, smiling, playing, and enjoying their young years. Lyon couldn't help but grin and run a longing finger over the glass. His eyes stopped on Kevin in the picture, with his green hoodie, black pants and shoes. Lyon found the kid Kevin to look pretty handsome, for a kid, and… he wondered.
Kevin: Dude, I have nothing to wear! I mean… I'll be a fool, a laughing… what are you doing?
Lyon: Hold on.
Kevin had come out of the bathroom with nothing but warmers on: shirt and pants. He threw himself on his bed as Lyon ignored him and bolted out of the room without even looking at him. Kevin's head spun, it had been at least 30 minutes ago since he had gotten Edd's message inviting him to a "Cul de Thanksgiving" (lousy pun). He didn't want to go and yet he longed to, but between excuses, Lyon's teasing and annoying persistence and something inside of him desiring to go… he had taken a bath and was sulking on the fact that he had nothing to look good in.
Lyon: I got it!
The stomp of feet up the stairs signaled Lyon was coming back into his room. Lucky for him, his mother was too busy making Thanksgiving dinner for the parents of the Cul who were going to be around since the "kids" were having their own dinner. Lately, his mother had been meddling too much in his life…ever since Lyon had to mention his… sexuality. It annoyed him, angered him and gave him a bitter taste. He wondered why... why it hurt.
Lyon: Check this out!
Kevin came back to his senses with the door slamming and a female, motherly voice ringing from downstairs, muffled by the distance.
Mrs. Barbs: Is everything ok?
Kevin: YES MOM!
Idiot! And what the hell is that?
Kevin looked at the fit black pants Lyon had on one hand and the dark green vest with a gray hoodie he had on the other. His face reflected utter confusion, making Lyon sigh and fling them at him, hitting his face. Kevin quickly took them off.
A turtleneck, black, long sleeved shirt Lyon pulled from his closet hit him on the face.
Kevin: What the…
He ducked as a pair of black shoes with fur lining flew to his face, landing and bouncing on his bed behind him.
Lyon: Get dressed!
Kevin was left speechless as Lyon left his room, closing the door behind him. Kevin sighed as he saw the clothes sprawled across his bed. He picked the shirt up, he actually liked that shirt and slowly proceeded to get dressed, his mind distracted on the thought of tonight.
Lyon paced himself in front of Kevin's room, anxious and desperate to leave for the party. He didn't know how much time had passed, why Kevin was taking so much or why he was so anxious to go to this party… his first in so many years. He stopped pacing at the thought of it, sulking slightly before shaking his head and closing his hands into tight fists, the leather of his gloves crunching. The door opened and Kevin stood in the doorway, Lyon smiled.
Edd and the others laughed, drank and cheered as the Cul reunited once again. May, Marie and Edd worked together and took turns as hosts, which made everyone very happy and allowed the three to both chat and make sure everything was in perfect state. The burners kept all the food hot since no one was still eating, even though a pack of beers was already gone. Whether it was the glee to see everyone again and to catch up, or the fact that they were still waiting for someone, the Cul sat at the table and everyone screamed, laughed and joked trying to pull as much information from each other as they could.
The hot topic, of course, was May and Ed's future wedding- which was an extensive talk filled with jokes, laughs and emotional remarks… especially Rolf who tried to persuade May (since Ed immediately said yes) to let him be the priest of the ceremony (something about his country and religion). Everyone was enormously surprised that Ed was going to be the first to marry, and to May, who he had turned down countless times. May shared how their relationship grew as he went one day to the restaurant where she worked part-time. "Get to a man's heart through his stomach." Was the phrase May used exactly and everyone laughed as Ed gave May a kiss and everyone cheered and raised toasts. They were to get married the next year, after May settled the job offers she had recently received and both patched their personal lives up to fit the business they were about to start up. Which was another topic.
Eddy and Lee's Business with May and Ed was an agitated topic as teasing was aimed towards Eddy, questioning his entrepreneurial abilities (since he failed catastrophically with every plan he made while they were kids), and some teasing of maybe following his friend in going after a Kanker. The later was managed smoothly by Lee and Eddy, as they brushed off the subject… but Nazz protested rather effusively and proceeded to drink a bit more heavily. Eddy laughed and comforted her as Lee and the rest teased her on the subject. In the end, everyone gave them their blessings on the venture.
Johnny had the spotlight shined on him as everyone pulled everything about him. From what happened to plank, to what he was doing with his life. Apparently, Johnny was about to graduate with a double mayor in animation and digital arts. Adding on to that, a new animation company which had won the 2 largest film projects this year had offered him a leading job with quite a hefty paycheck. After some awe, questions and even showing of his portfolio on his laptop (which he said to carry everywhere) everyone shifted the topic and said openly how much they had missed him.
Marie and Edd's Relationship was... a bit obvious topic and followed by a lot of questions and debates between how expected, obvious, blindsided, surprising and unexpected their union was. Neither Marie nor Edd talked much about it and they both laughed, enjoyed and giggled girlishly as everyone offered theories of how they got together and where their relationship was headed. Marie kissed Edd in the middle of it all and everyone cheered. Edd, though laughing and blushing and loving all the happiness, wondered why he always felt something was off… as if his most carnal emotions were suppressed.
Rolf's Pig became a subject since no one could forget the stench of it when he had opened the bag in which he had carried it. Poisonous, putrid, lethal, the fear of eating it, and many more fears bombarded Rolf who calmly stood determined that everyone should wait and judge it's flavor when it was cooked.
May: It's underground! How will you know when it's done?!
Rolf: Simple, goldy. It'll…
Rolf was cut off as two tall, fit and handsome figures walked into Edd's backyard. Though the red head was slightly taller, they both looked like models take out from a magazine. They stood, watching everyone seated around the massive table before one raised his hand and waved shyly.
Kevin: Hey Dorks.
The chime of the timer, signaling that the turkey was done was followed by a loud explosion and the raising of the small patch of ground on Edd's backyard where the pig had been buried, lifting a big cloud of smoke and dust startled everyone (except Rolf) and also broke the dense silence with laughter.
Rolf got up and hugged Kevin, making everyone follow and greet him with cheers. Lyon didn't mind as he saw Marie and Edd hanging back from the group, not getting caught in between. He slipped away to them, greeting them as casual as always. Edd quickly got up as he saw Lyon walking their way, making a gesture with his hands which seemed like a waving peace sign.
Edd: You made it!
Lyon: Hell yeah, wouldn't miss your dinner for the world.
Marie: You… are late.
Lyon scoffed before smiling and greeting Marie with a kiss on each cheek like the French. Startled, Marie froze as Lyon smirked and placed an arm around Edd.
Lyon: Say Double D, you're the last one left.
Edd: Oh, I don't really want to…
Edd squealed as Lyon dragged him, nearly lifting him up, into the group that surrounded Kevin. They were soon face to face. Kevin smiled as he placed an arm behind his neck and extended his right hand to Edd. Behind, Lyon made a face palm.
Kevin: Thanks for inviting Double Dork.
Edd: Back to the old insults, I see.
Kevin: Hey, it's a reunion.
Edd giggled as Kevin chuckled, everyone slowly started shifting their attention from Kevin to the other figure who was now standing beside Marie and talking to her.
Kevin: Oh, yeah, that doofus over there is called Lyon.
Lyon: Short for Lionel, you dick!
Kevin: He's my roommate.
The gang laughed as they greeted him and introduced themselves. Completely different from the vibe with Kevin, where everyone was eager to see him and talk to him, the Cul got shy and quiet as they each looked for a way to welcome the "non-Cul" guest.
Jimmy and Sarah: Hey.
Both had, in unison and a very sensual, provocative tone, greeted Lyon, causing an uproar of laughter from the group.
Sarah: Really, Jimmy?!
Jimmy: I said it first!
Sarah: You always like the guys I like!
Eddy: Would explain why you're best friends.
A bit of teasing and laughter later, everyone made Lyon feel at home and part of the group in their own special way. Soon, it was time to eat as May placed the turkey (with help from Ed) at the center of the table. It was golden, with brown hints and a glossy exterior… it smelled delicious, watering everyone's mouth. Rolf, to everyone's surprise didn't fall behind as he pulled the pig out with the help of Eddy, Johnny and Lyon. As if by magic, the pig had a glossy, burnt red exterior, crusty and yet tender, the bad smell nowhere to be found only the delicious smell of smoked, grilled pork. Side by side, turkey and pork made the night seem like a banquet of royalty and everyone was quick to sit, waiting to give thanks. Edd and Marie sat at the center, between the turkey and the pork and at the opposite side of May and Ed. The couples talked for a bit while everyone got seated, it didn't last long as everyone was drooling.
Eyes closed, everyone holding hands. Edd gasped and opened his eyes as manly, coarse hand grabbed his left hand. It was warm, familiar, Edd's eyes rose slowly, bright, moony, illuminated by the candles and hanging lights to meet Kevin's. He watched him, his eyes focused on his, warm, penetrating…seeing through him. Their hearts raced, they could feel them…each other's. Kevin smirked as he turned his head and closed his eyes, Rolf's voice muffled as time, once stopped, slowly ticked forward. Edd dropped his gaze, peaking at Kevin one last time and his evident grin. Confused, mesmerized, absorbed by his touch, Edd squeezed Kevin's hand softly as he closed his own eyes.
It was late, the turkey and pork where picked clean, leaving only the bones dismantled on their trays. It was a feast of kings and everyone ate to their heart's content the delicious food Marie, Sarah, May and Edd had prepared, thanking them every time they could. Between laughter, drinks and food, the party had extended far into the night and it was already time to go. Memories had been relived, friendships rekindled and new friendships made. Lyon had made quite the connection with both Sarah and Jimmy and the three had talked most of the night, something which made May alert of Ed- he was always overprotective of Sarah. Rolf, Johnny and Kevin horsed around and talked about a wide arrange of topics which Edd didn't actually pay attention to. Eddy got his hands full early on as Nazz had gotten drunk and was one bubbly and comical ball of laughter. Lee had passed out inside the house on a couch, a mixture of beer, food and general exhaustion (she had taken work calls even during the night) had left her drained. May, Ed, Marie and Edd sat together on the already dimly light table as the candles slowly melted away, talking and laughing at how great it was to be see everyone again. Ed, sentimental and big hearted actually teared up when he confessed that he had actually feared that not everybody would be invited to their wedding… it made the girls and Edd hug him in empathy. It had been an amazing night.
Soon after, as Eddy excused himself as he carried a drowsy drunk Nazz, the others began to help Edd, May and Marie with cleaning. Though most of the burners were simply wrapped in plastic wraps or placed inside bags since it was too late to wash them, everyone tried their best. Kevin even came up with the idea of using the hose to clean a burner. As the first jet of water hit the inside and water sprayed everywhere, making all the girls scream, that idea was discarded. However, they did laugh at the incident. As Ed, Rolf, Lyon and Johnny mounted the burners, trays and all the kitchen equipment May had brought back into the car, Marie and May trying to carry Lee to the car, and Jimmy and Sarah got the lights down on the backyard, Edd and Kevin carried the various bags of trash to the trash bins in the front lawn.
The silence was dense, the cold felt bitter as they worked silently, exchanging glances every now and then. It was cruel, as each time they looked into each other's eyes time stopped, only for a brief moment before a gust of cold made them shiver back to reality each time. They were barely half way, since Edd lacked any strength and dragged the bags slowly, careful that they wouldn't rip open, when Jimmy, Sarah and Johnny said 'Goodbye'. Edd watched them as Jimmy strutted at the edge of the side walk and Johnny walked beside Sarah, giving her his jacket halfway towards her house. Edd smiled, he was no expert but he was glad that… perhaps, just perhaps, Sarah was moving on.
Kevin: UGH! That's the last one.
Kevin's voice startled Edd who yelped and turned around quickly to look at him. He was handsome and tired as his panting was visible do to the white smoke coming out of his mouth. Edd giggled.
Edd: Thank you very much Kevin.
Kevin: Hey, don't mention it. It's better than dealing with that.
Kevin pointed at the scene of May and Marie trying to seat Lee in the car as Edd, Lyon and Rolf moved heavy appliances onto the trunk. They both laughed, Edd covering his mouth with one hand as he slapped Kevin playfully on the shoulder. They're eyes met, only for a second as a cold air swooped upon them once again. Edd shivered and suddenly stopped. His body was being pressed against a warm, firm body, muscular and fit. Just as Edd loosened up and half closed his eyes, Kevin moved, going into the house. Edd followed him.
Kevin appeared from the living room, carrying the green vest with gray hoodie that Lyon had lent him tonight. He waved it at Edd.
Kevin: I was forgetting this. Lyon would murder me if I lost it.
They both chuckled, standing one in front of the other, their heads down, avoiding each other's gaze.
Too fast for him to react, Edd's head had been tilted upward by a strong, manly, coarse hand which quickly grabbed his neck. It was a deep kiss, the world disappeared as Edd only saw Kevin's closed eyes. His body wasn't shaking, he wasn't nervous, his hands placed on Kevin's chest, but not resisting him. Silence, their heartbeats in unison in their ears, slow, strong and steady, Edd slowly lost himself in the pleasure… an ecstasy he had never experienced. However, it soon ended, as Kevin pulled away. Edd was panting, softly, his eyes closed.
Kevin: Gotta go.
Kevin whispered into Edd's ear as he walked out of Edd's house. Edd stood in the darkness: paralyzed, confused, shocked, desire burning through him, the ecstasy unrelenting, the emotions crashed inside of him as monsoon waves. He slowly walked to the doorway of his house to watch Rolf saying his goodbye beside Lyon and Kevin.
Rolf: Goodbye, Ed Boy!
Lyon: Thanks for everything Double D!
Ed: BYE DOUBLE D!
May: It was amazing Double D!
Marie walked up beside Edd, hugging his arm as they waved goodbye to the last members of the gang. They all waved back, even Kevin, a grin on his face as his and Edd's eyes met one last time. Time slowed for a short moment before Lyon placed an arm around Kevin's neck, making Kevin break the stare. Edd only stood on the doorway as everyone left, Marie holding his arm, his mind racing on what had just happened. What DID just happen?