Who We Are: College

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Reality Check

The days after Christmas passed in a breeze, followed by harsh snow storms which covered the city and campus with a beautiful coat of white. The temperature dropped consistently, but not enough to become uncomfortable nor unbearable. People and shops went on with their merry lives and gleamed with glee, jingles and vibrant music filling World Avenue and the city itself. To the inhabitants and students who stayed for the festivities, it was a white winter break, filled with activities and opportunities for romance. Everyone, though covered in clothes, had a smile on their face… or most.

Edd sighed as he sat on a mound of snow, watching Kevin and Lyon throw vicious snowballs at each other which thudded against their thick jackets. Though their laughter filled the air, Edd could barely focus on… anything. New Year's Eve had passed by 6 days ago and though they had celebrated it at Ruzzo's again… Marie had barely talked to him. In fact, he hadn't seen Marie nor talked with her since the Christmas Party. Since they woke up together on the 25th, Marie had become distant, quiet and more affectionate… when they were together. Though the cute caresses and warmth of her love eased his nerves and mind that something was wrong…he couldn't help but wonder why her sudden silence.

Fear and paranoia haunted him relentlessly day and night over that fateful night. Did Marie know? Did Marie see him and Kevin? Did someone tell her? Every time he looked back on it, guilt filled him. She had been crying when he picked her up... was the party so nice she'd get emotional over it? She had not talked to him why she was crying. No explanation, just distance and an increasing demonstration of warmth and affection. She knew. She must know… didn't she? If she didn't know… what did she know then? Edd's mind quarreled and ripped itself as Edd beat himself up internally with the immorality of his actions. He had betrayed her trust and love… right? If he didn't correspond her emotions… was it betrayal? Of course it was! He was in a relationship with her! But… was it LOVE or was it… affection? Edd grunted loudly as he lifted his hands to his head… he was having another migraine.

Kevin: Hey, you ok Double D?

Lyon: Maybe you need to… cool your head.

Lyon waves a snowball with a sneer on his face, Kevin elbowed him on the ribs immediately. Lyon grunted and laughed the pain off as Kevin approached Edd and sat beside him.

Kevin: Thinking about her again?

Edd: Yeah… I cannot seem to get her out of my head lately.

Kevin: Sounds like love.

Edd giggled, covering his face as he girlishly pushed a chuckling Kevin. Edd fixed his beanie on his head.

Edd: I feel bad for her.

Kevin: Why?

Edd: KEVIN! I was, errr, AM in a relationship with her.

Kevin: So?

Edd: It's commitment Kevin. Trust. I can't help but feel I'm betraying her with…

Kevin: With?

Lyon: With?

Lyon plopped himself at the other side of Edd, a wide smile on his face.

Edd: Guys!

Lyon laughed as Kevin glared at him from Edd's other side as Edd rolled his knees in embarrassment.

Lyon: Let me guess. Our dear Marie has no clue you two are seeing each other. Cutie here is dying of guilt and… Kevin is just too happy to care.

Edd: Lyon!

But before Lyon could even laugh in triumph he received a large snowball to the face, tipping him over and dropping him on his back. Face and mouth covered in snow, Lyon coughed it out as Edd looked disapprovingly at Kevin.

Edd: Kevin, what did we…

Kevin: Yeah yeah, not be violent, I know…but he asked for it.

Edd: Not the point, you have to be proper and the bigger person…

Kevin: I am bigger.

Kevin winked and Edd's cheeks blushed pink but he remained composed and renewed his scolding.

Edd: Ha-Ha, very funny Kevin. Don't harm others just to get what you want.

Kevin: I was defending you!

Edd: I can defend myself very well, thank you!

Kevin: You wouldn't even hurt a fly.

Edd: Words are more powerful than fists when used appropriately and firmly to state…

Kevin kissed him.

Kevin: You talk too much.

Edd went speechless, his body succumbing to the urge of being with him. Yet, as Kevin leaned in for a second kiss, Edd's rational mind clung on one last time. He stopped him, hands on his chest as he lowered his head, breathing heavily and swallowing hard.

Edd: I… I can't… not like this.

Kevin: Like what?

Lyon: Get a room!

Edd giggled girlishly as Kevin whirled another snow ball to Lyon's face, though this time he covered it. Edd shook his head as the boys began another snowball fight and squealed as he got caught in the crossfire. He was laughing, he was happy… so happy it was wrong. Morality and emotions conflicted him as he knew he shouldn't be feeling this way and yet… he couldn't help it.

Marie sighed as she took a step back to look at her work. Her face and hands were covered in layers of paint and her white tank top was smeared too. Lately, art had come back to her…therapy, meditation, self-exploration. She had loved art for that sole reason… it was hers; her world, her creations, her mind plastered into a solid thing. She did not really care to make art to sell it… not anymore… she just loved to paint. She found it funny how being with Edd always made her brain shut up. Yet… after Christmas, her mind was… louder than ever. Thus, she had begun to create.

"Torn Away". She thought as she labeled her creation and proceeded to immediately, in furry, break it and destroy it. She felt relieved by the end, deciding to fill a glass of wine… even though it was just noon. Lately, her usual nice, deep and flowing art had become aggressive, spontaneous, erratic with imperfections and emotion all over it. She did not hate the medium… she hated the product. It was always the same: Betrayal, Edd being taken away, Edd leaving, Loneliness, realization, eureka moments, understanding. She hated it, especially since it traced back to that dreadful night. She never thought she'd ever hate Christmas. But, watching the love of your life kiss a… MAN… under a mistletoe… it sure puts things in perspective. She took a heavy gulp of wine at the thought.

She strutted to her couch, taking her tank top off along the way. She laid there, stretching, in her underwear. The heater was on, so cold was not an issue, yet she felt cold… so cold. She felt alone… again. As she felt her apartment open up, silence filling it and crushing her, a knot formed on her throat, her eyes watering. She clenched her jaw, she hated crying… she was strong. A single tear escaped her self-control and Marie broke into tears, rolling over on the couch to cover her face with a pillow.

An hour later, Marie stood below the running water of her shower, steam covering the bathroom. She wasn't happy… she hurt. Still, she knew better than sulking. Getting out of the shower and wrapping a towel around her body she called her manager to come for the 8th piece since the 25th. She would be thrilled, she loved her art… and selling it… she (Marie) hated that. When had her art become a means of monetary gain and not just… for personal expression and enjoyment? As the phone rung, she thought about this. She had been pouring emotions into her recent works… emotions she hated… but her emotions none the less. Just because she hated what she was feeling didn't mean she should get rid of her works. The emotions would rise again, bringing a new piece, which would yet again be sent off just because she didn't want to see them.

?: Hello? Marie?

Marie hung up as she walked down stairs with only the towel. She stood over the ripped, broken and tattered piece on the floor and she found… a new beauty in it. The strength of her emotions. She chuckled and covered her face…was she going mad? She picked the piece up and leaned it as best as possible on the wall. Raising a finger as if picturing where it should go. An idea struck her. This piece… this ragged and tattered thing, would remind her not of what happened… but of her strength. She grined at herself, filled with a new energy and state of mind. But, she needed to get dressed first… she needed to eat, and her stomach had been growling since the morning.

Edd checked his watch, it was a quarter past 1. He sighed as the three boys walked down World Avenue. Distracted, Edd heard the muffled cries and laughter of the two boys ahead of him. They looked stunning, each in his own way. Lyon was always elegant, clean, young, fresh, juvenile… vibrant. He was always an enigma, Edd had never seen him in any other mood besides jovial and peppy. It was odd, no person was that happy… he was sure. Still, he was… somewhat, their pillar. He always had their backs with a smile.

Kevin, the ginger jock was exactly as he seemed: rough, sharp, strong and menacing. But under all his bad boy act hid a brilliant, kind, warm person who Edd had come to love and enjoy. Love… he referred to Kevin as LOVE. His mind tore at the concept again causing Edd to raise a hand to his forehead.

Lyon: Oi! You ok Double D?

Edd lifted his gaze to see the two boys looking back at him in worried faces. He smiled warmly at them, dismissing their concern with some swats of his hand.

Edd: I'm ok, I'm ok… the cold is just a bit too much.

Lyon: Looks like somebody needs some heating up, huh?

Lyon elbows Kevin who punches him on the shoulder. He laughs it up while Kevin approacheD Edd and placed a hand on his cheek and then on his forehead.

Kevin: No fever.

Edd: Like you'd be the one to know.

Kevin: Hey, moms do this!

Lyon: You're right, mom.

Kevin glares at Lyon while Edd giggles girlishly at the snipe, but it's interrupted by a phone ringing and Lyon patting his body searching for it.

Lyon: Yeah? Hey!

Lyon walks away as he begins to talk on the phone… secretive as ever. Edd calms himself as Kevin watches him with his hands around his chest.

Kevin: Better?

Edd: Sort of, been thinking a lot.

Kevin: As always.

Edd pushes him playfully as they begin to walk behind Lyon who's usual flare and happiness seemed to dwindle. An odd occurrence but Kevin's teasing and playfulness: throwing scoops of snow to him, hugging him, messing with him, kept him far too distracted.

Lyon: Hey… guys... I… have to… go. Think that's ok?

Kevin: Finally.

Lyon: Fuck you, mate!

The boys laugh as Lyon hung up the call and became edging the sidewalk, he apparently was about to part ways.

Lyon: Hey, be safe. Edd, don't let him chew the carpet.

Edd: Chew the…

Kevin: Go away, asshole!

Lyon crosses the street, ducking a snowball Kevin threw after him. His laughter, contagious as usual, is the last thing heard as he takes a turn out of World Avenue, waving goodbye. Edd, giggling as bubbly as ever waves back. Kevin… chuckles, a grin on his face which Edd notices. Despite the way they treated each other, the two roommates and best friends trusted each other completely and seemed to always be in sync. Edd envied that, he desired it… a connection so deep words weren't necessary.

Kevin: Something on my face?

Kevin replies looking down at Edd as he lifts a hand to his cheek, somewhat alarmed. Edd laughs this time, covering his small mouth with a hand.

Edd: No….no,no I was just…looking at you.

Kevin blushes and turns away, embarrassed.

Edd: Oh, come on!

As Edd moved beside him once again, both strolling down World Avenue, Kevin steals a kiss from him. Both blushing, they walk towards the German Restaurant which had gotten popular over the last weeks. It was their… first… date? Logically, and simple arithmetic, suggested it was, yet… at every moment his mind pinned down what his relationship with Kevin was… it denied it… it condemned him. Edd frowned again, his heart aching at the willingness and easiness with which he was succumbing to everything. Was he a monster? Why was he doing this? What was the explanation for this…. behavior. Edd's mind swerved from self loathing to an old topic he had forgotten. Lewin's equation.

B = f(P,E,S) = P*E - S*E

It was wrong. It didn't make sense… not anymore. If a situation affected the individual… then… why would he be torn by the duality of emotion and morality? The person… his genetics and how these genetics were affected by his environment are what affect the situation and inversely determine the behavior. Edd's mind faded away as he began to mumble on the validity of this observation… it seemed… better. It felt better.

Kevin: Earth to Double D.

Kevin knocks on Edd's head to which Edd grimaces, flinches and replies to him angrily.

Edd: Ow! HEY!

Kevin: You didn't hear what I said!

Edd: Doesn't mean you can injure me.

Kevin: I barely touched you!

Edd: I'm delicate!

Kevin: I can see that.

He grins and Edd pouts with his cheeks blushing. He noticed though that they weren't walking and had already arrived at their destination. He looks inside and up at Kevin again, squinting his eyes.

Edd: Let's go.

Kevin: Still pouting?

Edd: Shut up!

Lyon sighed as he walked across the street of his new "office". Apparently the call came at the worst time. His projects springing everywhere and him being a rather mobile and erratic individual, the landlord had demanded him to sign a contract where he had to pay 3 months in advance. Though money was not…that much of an issue, Lyon felt rather offended. Still, water under the bridge, he made a promise to pay by the weekend and ended the meeting with a handshake. "Ambitious and Sly" his mind cried to him making him grin and shake his head. He liked and disliked the words. He never liked being able to lie, to play games with people as the pawns…but…he had learned it was a valuable ability.

Reality, an unkind mistress, had made Lyon her own, teaching him the darkness in people's hearts. His aloof nature and passionate, burning desire to help came from such objective observation of the world. He didn't want people to keep using each other…he wanted to change that, to show what working together could bring. Idealist? Maybe. He didn't dislike that too much though. He entered the small familiar bistro where he had agreed to meet Arya and raised a hand instinctively to salute her. However, instead of being received by the blonde and rather bashful girl he was met by the tough cousin Bruno, the most jealous and protective of the family. Lyon sighed, today was not a good day.

The talk had been short, fiery but not violent as Lyon talked to him leveled and with no round-abouts. He had lived the situation before and had learned that acting innocent was the worst option. He pleaded guilty and simply explained his actions. He in fact liked Arya, but he did not seek something serious; marriage was a topic far ahead for him. However, he got his own surprises, Arya was 17, not 18 and was perhaps the troublemaker of the lot. Bashful, the girl was cunning and liked to date boys, though things never went further than a few dates and maybe a kiss. The boys bonded and laughed as Lyon joked that they were peas in a pod and the cure for each other. Jokes apart Bruno left to work and, with a hug, left Lyon at the table…not without calling him "traitor" for choosing to eat at the "Common Bistro" than at a "Real Italian Restaurant". Once alone Lyon sighs heavily, hunching over the table as he rubs the back of his neck.

?: Seems we're on the same boat.

Lyon recognizes the voice, a far too noticeable one. One who had scolded him and Kevin for the lasts…months. He raises his head with a tired grin.

Lyon: Hello Marie.

Marie: No smart, charming nickname? Wow you're in a bad mood.

She smiles at him while he chuckles at her sharp observation.

Lyon: Ah, so I see you DO notice me.

Marie: Oh shut up!

The two laugh a while as Lyon calls for a waiter. He was rather exhausted… and it was barely 2pm. He was starving. He grabs his stomach as he feels a sharp pain- only explainable as his stomach had begun to eat his intestines. He could just be exaggerating though.

Marie: Hungry?

Lyon: Yeah, you want anything?

He motions his head toward her, a gallant courtesy, a demonstration of attention. He was raised on it.

Marie: Well, now that you mention it…

Lyon: Clever girl.

They both laugh as Marie looks at him with a shocked face and tries to hit him across the table with her fist. They both needed this. Soon a waiter comes their way and they order both their meals: a Prosciutto with Mozarrella Panini for Marie and a Spaguetti a la Putanesca for Lyon… plus an Italian wine they both bickered over for 10 minutes. They laughed as the wine was served on their glasses.

Marie: You know, that dish is just perfect for you

Lyon: Oh, this one is easy… Putanesca?

Marie: Slut.

Lyon: Don't hate the player…

Marie: Oh my god!

She motions as if she were to throw the wine glass at him to which he flinches slightly but both begin to laugh hysterically again. Lyon eyes her, carefully and chimes his glass with hers.

Lyon: For friends.

Marie: WOOOAH, I mean… this is so fast…

Lyon: Oh my god.

They laugh again.

Lyon: I must say, I would have loved to meet you before Edd. Shame the last time we were here it was too late.

Marie blushes but replies, composed.

Marie: Such an indecent proposal. What would your friend say?!

Marie plays a shocked and appalled face to which they both laugh do to its dramatism. But the laughs are cut short as Lyon eyes her, insightful and his smile fades causing for a thick silence to come between them. As they both looked at their wine glasses, Lyon cantering it slowly and Marie just turning it between her fingers, Lyon breaks the silence.

Lyon: So…you know.

Marie bites her lips and simply slouches back on the seat, averting her gaze and rising her glass to take a sip.

Marie: Know what?

Lyon: Hun, you could've at least tried harder in hiding it.

Marie: Well, it's not a nice topic! Is it!

She had lowered her voice in a hiss as she lashed out to him defensively and hurt.

Lyon: Sorry. It's as much as I can say.

Marie: Don't be, it doesn't concern you.

Lyon: It does… I helped…

Marie: Helped?

Lyon: Get them together.

Marie's eyes burn up as she watches him with a true shocked face. Rage, sadness, betrayal, she wanted to kill him, murder him. Her body tenses as she restraints her impulses and replies with a cracked voice. A couple tears escape her eyes.

Marie: Why?!

Lyon: Because… Kevin has never been happier… and…

He eyes her, standing up and walking to her side, pulling out a handkerchief. Marie swats it away.

Marie: And what?! That you love me?! That you like me?! What fancy phrase will you pull now?! Didn't you ever stop to think about my feelings?! That I loved Edd.

Lyon: Loved.

Marie stands up and slaps him across the face.

Lyon: I deserve that.

Marie: Rot in hell.

Marie stomps away as Lyon stands his ground, lifting a hand to his burning cheek. He was calm, the day just kept getting worse… but he could manage. He hears the loud steps coming back and pulls the seat back so Marie could sit again.

Marie: I want my food.

Lyon: Come on… let's just talk.

Marie: I don't want to.

Lyon: I will then.

Marie sits in his seat and, with a sigh, he sits in hers.

Lyon: I find you to be an amazing girl. What I feel for you is indifferent. You don't know Kevin…how troubled he is…the life he's had to live. He's never been happy, Marie.

Lyon begins to tell of the days before her when Kevin and Edd studied. The state and depression enveloping Kevin when she arrived. The details he had observed from the start, the illuminating smile on Kevin's face whenever Edd was around or how Edd seemed to just let go with Kevin. He shared with her how their trio was not so much of 3 "amigos" but of a couple and the best man….per se. He had to come clean…it had eaten him away ever since he saw her again. He had known that she'd be a problem…that she'd get hurt. He had to apologize for that…for being selfish and only thinking of his friend…and not of her.

Lyon: Sorry.

Marie stood at the other side, her gaze averted, looking out the windows which stretched from ceiling to floor. She felt crushed, biting her lips she tried not to break down before him. Her throat had a massive knot and she simply managed to swallow her wine. She felt alone.

Marie: Why do you hate me?

Her voice comes out weak, quiet, with all the pain behind it.

Lyon: I don't…I'm simply coming clean. I don't want to lie to you…to be a hypocrite, saying I'm your friend when I've done this much harm.

Marie: It's ok…I don't care. I just….thought I could get another chance.

Lyon: You did.

Marie wipes her eyes a bit.

Marie: I love him. I just wanted to be with him…forever.

Lyon: Were you happy?

Marie's heart cringed, her mind derailing. She had always wondered. Happyness, what was it? She had laughed, she had cried, her life had been an emotional one…a fascinating one. To be honest, she had always enjoyed her life, whether it was with a man by her side or alone. But…with Edd, she simply felt something more. She had always considered it fate… that they would be together. She had felt happy with him, loved him, adored him, she desired him. But…being with him…it felt…off. Jealousy, alone…longing. He was a busy person, she understood that. But…if it wasn't having sex, they rarely talked or their talks didn't last long. It was mostly her fault as she never understood what Edd rambled about so she'd cut him off with kisses and caresses. It was odd…though she felt happy with him. Now, after everything, she felt there was something missing.

Marie: Yes.

Her tone a bit more stable, her mind scattered in her thoughts. She was connecting the dots.

Lyon: You…didn't lash at me for saying… "were"

Marie: I… I don't know.

Lyon: Don't know what?

Marie: What I feel. I want him Lyon… but I can't have him. But… is it your fault? Is it mine? Is it his? Or Kevin's? Why can't I be happy?

Lyon: I can't answer that Marie…only you can. We all live the life we choose to live…and the relationships we allow. Instead of wanting him…why not look at him?

Marie: Look at him?

Lyon: Nobody is perfect…what is it in him that drives you mad? Both good and bad. If you can love him even with his flaws…fight. If his flaws make your emotions waver, falter…then…confront him.

Marie eyes him, speculant and curious as the waiters bring their food. How could he be so bipolar? An aloof and dumb ass who likes to just mess with others and sweet talk girls…and yet, a wise and profound intellectual who helps others out of…kindness. She takes a bit of her panini, sighing in joy as both her palette craved the flavor and her stomach thanked her. She had to admit…Lyon was not that bad.

Marie: Thanks.

Lyon: That was a quick change in mood.

Marie yelps in protest and kicks him under the table, making him grimace and bend over. The two giggle and laugh as their teasing and jokes renew. It was refreshing…for both of them…a long craved moment of openness for him and insight for her.

Marie: So…what should I do know?

Lyon: You're a girl…be crafty.

Marie: Wow, so now US girls are crafty?

Lyon: Do you tell a guy upfront what you want and feel or do you beat around the bush?

Marie: hey I'm pretty straightforward!

Lyon: the "pretty" part makes it less convincing.

Marie: Ass!

Lyon: Wasn't I a slut?

They laugh, enjoying the meal and each other's company. Both had a lot to do.

Kevin and Edd sat side by side on a booth of the german place. It was…lively and german. Beers were served by waitresses left and right along with very classical german dishes. The menu had even two formats: German and English, which made things much more entertaining as most people loved to try and order from the German menu. The uproar of laughter filled the room as most names were far too complicated to pronounce. Thankfully, Edd had learned German in his free time and finding a place to practice it made him like a child on Christmas morning.

Kevin looked dreamily at Edd as he spoke German with some of the waiters. Some were part of the family business, others were exchange students (Germans) and others were just students who had learned German. Edd laughed coyly with everyone, amused and excited to meet the place and to get to practice the language. He'd never say it out loud, but Kevin admired him…he felt so little and stupid beside him. Successful, charming, kind and educated, Edd was a dream. He laughed at himself as he became self-aware of his admiration towards Edd.

Edd: What?

Kevin: huh?

Edd: You were laughing…what is it?

Kevin: Oh! UUUUH, nothing.

Edd: Kevin…

Kevin: I swear, I was just looking at you.

Edd blushes crimson as he tugs on his beanie and turns from him. Kevin laughs, an honest and open loud laugh.

As their food arrives, the boys eat, taking their time. While Kevin ate like an animal, grabbing everything and stuffing it in his mouth Edd was delicate, wiping his lips at every bite and being careful not to stain anything. They were polar opposites and Edd laughed at Kevin's smeared face, cleaning it up with his handkerchief. The sun would begin to set soon enough as the boys finished their meal and sat on the booth simply talking about the past. It wasn't much, more of a competition of embarrassing facts as in all their childhood…they…weren't intimately close. Yet, nothing is perfect.

Edd: Hey Kev…

Kevin: Yeah?

Edd: I like Marie. I'm in a relationship with her. You know that…right?

Kevin sighs and takes his arm off Edd.

Kevin: So?

Edd: What do you mean so?! I don't feel good doing this…it's like betraying her. I'm hurting her.

Kevin: Then stop hurting her.

Edd: But I like hanging out with you.

Kevin: I didn't say we should stop hanging out.

Edd's face dulls as he leans back on the booth. His mood was slowly falling, he couldn't make up his mind. He still wondered what THIS was between him and Kevin. It felt…it felt…like when he was with Marie…in prom. Edd rubs his temples, a headache incoming.

Kevin: You ok?

Edd: Yeah…just tired.

Kevin: Maybe I should walk you home.

Edd: Yeah…it's getting late.

Edd stands and Kevin follows behind, getting their jackets and even helping Edd get into his smoothly. Kevin, distant and cold as usual when he was defensive couldn't help but notice Edd was in pain. Yet, despite the urge of his body to comfort him…he restrained.

To their surprise the restaurant was actually around the corner from the street where Marie's apartment stood. This (of course) didn't come to their attention without getting lost in the cold weather, walking up and down the Avenue a couple times. They didn't mind though, a couple of bickering and discussing helped Edd's mind stop thinking on his morale and feelings while Kevin simply enjoyed their time. Soon, it was time to say goodbye. Despite everything, this moment always came the same way. They'd wave one awkward goodbye or shake hands and part ways. However, that was in campus and not…walking him home. Edd watched his shoes as Kevin stood before him. The step difference actually made them the same height and be on eye-level. Kevin's cold eyes seemed perfect in the snow… as if part of it, and that made Edd start shying his eyes away.

Kevin: So…uh…

Kevin rubbed the back of his neck as Edd shivered in the cold.

Edd: It's cold huh?

Kevin chuckles.

Kevin: You should go inside fast.

Edd: I know.

Neither moved. They just exchanged glances at each other with a giggle each time…neither moving away.

Edd: Hey…

Kevin: Take care.

Kevin hugs Edd impulsively, to which the slim body shivers, but not because of cold. Edd felt his knees nearly buckle and simply yelped in surprise. It was a warm hug as Edd simply stared into the void…his mind frozen in time, unwilling to provide any kind of reaction. Soon Kevin breaks the hug and looks at Edd's completely lost face, speechless. He bursts into laughter and hugs him quickly one last time as he messes with his beanie.

Kevin: Take care Double Dork.

Edd couldn't reply as he simply stood, mouth ajar watching Kevin walk back to World Avenue, his hand waving him goodbye slowly. As a gust of chilly air with snow hits him from behind he shiver and finally reacts. Moving swiftly and shivering to the inside of the building he salutes the security guards and starts rubbing his body in the elevator. He was cold…freezing cold. Why did he just stand like an idiot in the cold?! He'd get sick…his chances were increasing the longer he took in taking a warm bath. Flu? Pneumonia? No, it wouldn't be so serious. Did he have meds though? Edd's mind scolded and nagged at him. As he opened Marie's apartment he noticed Marie placing a painting in the corner, over a marble pedestal. It was a peculiar piece, technically a statue as it was a physical thing with a definite space. A ragged and tattered painting…abstract in every form. Edd tried to grasp it…its meaning…or importance. A new method? Or was it some detail? His ordered, scientific mind quickly working to understand it, what composed it and what reactions it could extract from the mind. He failed.

Edd: It looks…different. What is it, Marie?

Marie sat on one of the dining table's chairs as she watched Edd unamused with teary, cold and pained eyes. Edd's heart dropped. Marie opens her mouth in a soft, weak, sad and tired voice.

Marie: We need to talk.

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