Who We Are: College

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Haunting

5 am, it was time to get up, if he had slept. Edd was not exhausted though, he had been awake all night, thinking, pondering, terrified. Edd had a strict policy about all nighters and it was to prevent them at all costs for his schedule was exhausting just as it was. Last night however, he hadn't pulled an all nighter (willingly), he wasn't even conscious he had stayed up all night. To Edd, there was only one word circling his head, a name which dawned on him just as dawn broke the sky. A name he knew too well, which he had left in his past and thought he had ran away from it...but it had come back.

"Marie"

Marie Kanker, his classmate (and her sisters too) at Peach Creek, the middle sister of three siblings (all girls) was known too well by Edd. Blue hair, explosive personality, jealous, easily angered, smart and artistic; she was never far from her older sister Lee and younger sister May, they were always together. Ironically and maybe just too conveniently the three sisters each had a crush on an ED (per se), this was in the younger years though. Being together for so long and turned down quite as much, the sisters eventually grew and changed and each took up a different personality...some things stayed though.

Edd, still in bed, couldn't help but think of them and her...he remembered them too well. After all... they are the Kankers.

Edd rubbed his eyes and turned his alarm off. Though it was Saturday, he had to work a mid-day shift at the caffé. Edd turned his alarm off, left the coffee maker running and went into the shower as his usual morning ritual. This morning though, he was sloppy and he took more time than usual as he thought of the Kankers.

Lee Kanker was a red head like Kevin (though hers was slightly more orange and actually ginger) and had grown up into quite a bossy woman (no surprise). She was the oldest of the Kankers, and though she was the oldest of Edd's generation when they graduated she wasn't dim witted at all. Lee Kanker had gone to study Law and, the last Edd knew of her, she was doing quite well. She was already being scouted in internships by law firms for her strong personality and commitment. She had grown quite tall, maybe his height or taller possibly, and though she wasn't slim she wasn't wide or chubby or overweight, up till Edd remembered. Always the observer, Edd had watched carefully how everyone at the Cul-de-Sac had grown and changed just as he did. Lee had grown possibly D-cups (Edd had no way to verify), and was very able bodied but she never joined any physical sport or activity at highschool.

Her hair had been trimmed a short almost manly type little ginger afro which still fell forward and covered her eyes mostly. A wide jaw, with a protruding lower half, and a distinctive fake tooth, her face had slimmed slightly and she still had her slim long neck which made her have an imposing and intimidating presence. She was the first to give up of the Kankers on the Eds, she had a crush on Eddy. Edd still remembered Eddy's scream of joy when this was confirmed, as she stopped stalking or harassing him and actually stayed away when her younger sisters were up to schemes. Lee's personal life though was a mystery, and Edd was in no rush to learn about it and actually preferred not knowing. As Edd finished preparing the coffee machine, entered the bathroom, finished his ritual of brushing his teeth and preparing the shower he thought of May.

May Kanker, the younger of the Kankers and yet not spoiled at all...none of them were. Edd's heart actually sunk a bit as he remembered his own hypothesis about them and their family, it must have been hard for them. May Kanker held a gigantic crush on big Ed, and it was perhaps the most amazing and incomprehensible couple to anyone in history. Ed had been always a simple guy, though he stood a staggering 2 meters (he had one giant genes in him) he was much taller than petite May. If Edd was not mistaken May had really small genes, standing perhaps barely at the 1.60 meter line, and Edd was sure she was actually smaller. Ed had always ran away from the Kankers and had believed the cooties were real, he was always simple.

Edd thought kindly of his giant best friend, they three had always been through so much, helped each other and Ed was always the best at hearing and saying the sweetest things. It was a shame and yet understandable his decision of staying at home to help his family and work; it was why Edd always visited his home...to see Ed again and be the trio once more. Though, recently, May had become part of the picture. May had grown into an adorable and quite fashionable blonde doll. Having finished puberty and choosing looks, she may not have been the brightest but she sure took care of herself. Always with makeup, she had placed her body on a careful diet at an early age, and the results were surprisingly impressive to what Edd expected (he too controlled his food intake). May though held a very perky slim body, but with wide sensual hips and busty B-cup chest, paired also with toned arms and legs, she had lost or diminished in physical strength compared to her younger years where the three sisters had been inseparable.

May though was the first to leave the Kanker trio and made her own friends as a popular girl in Highschool. If he remembered properly (as he took his clothes off), May had joined the cheerleading squad and had somewhat of friction with Nazz. Ed had always ignored and shown anything but attraction to May, then again, Edd was sure Ed was still (back then) far from...loving May. Highschool had gone by and May had been turned down in the harshest ways possible by Ed, leaving Edd, her friends or her sisters to console her. Still, Edd had to give it to her for her determination. Though May studied at a College not so far from Peach Creek, she visited Ed on a regular basis and had majored in Culinary Arts.

Fascinating how the phrase "get to a man's heart through his stomach" had never been more true. Ed couldn't say no to May's cooking and Ed's family practically accepted her as one of them. And to think of their dramatic history (the irony). Edd had something of a protective or fatherly sensation toward May, but he couldn't deny she was a looker, nor the fact that he had been bitten by the love bug one valentine with her. Edd shook such memory away, it was years ago...but apparently the past never dies.

Edd tried shaking that thought off his head as he entered the shower to wash his perfectly trim and hairless body- a decision he had made in his earlier years and kept it that way ever since. Still, while Edd carefully washed himself and made sure he had no pubic hair growing in unwanted locations, he thought finally of Marie. Edd tried to push her image and thoughts away, but he couldn't...Marie Kanker was a surprise of life.

Marie never lost her short blue hair, but had some of the appearance issue rubbed onto her by May. Marie though, barely used any makeup, favoring simple eyeliner and a natural lipstick tone. She was still a tomboy, she never out grew that, but she did outgrow her rather conflictive personality. Edd was surprised the first time Marie made the Headlines back in town, she had won a junior national art competition.

Marie had taken the artistic road of life, spilling all her anger, her emotions, her thoughts into her paintings...and her desires. She had taken up boxing in highschool as well, and she was known to be tougher than the boys even. Still, her art was anything but tough. Thinking back on it, it was perhaps the fact that Marie had found so many outlets for her emotions that maybe she and Edd had gotten to know each other better. Instead of the obsessive, almost psycho girl she had been in her early years, she had started getting close to Edd in a more civilized way. Small talk, lead to longer talks, which eventually had them chatting and sending notes or text messages in class. Edd still remembered such days, and felt a deep dread crush him.

Marie...Edd's mind quickly remembered her physique, her loose tops, her baggy military pants, her spiky arm bands... and... her always clean white apron, her organized color palette, her clean and always soft brushes. Marie painted with love, or with pain... and Edd knew too well the reason. Yet, the reason why he knew brought back other memories. As his mind had started to praise and view Marie without the horror, or dread or bad memories...his mind focused ever more on her physique. Edd stopped himself, he felt hot, and the shower was at the temperature he always used it. Why would he get so worked up? Yet again, his own body betrayed him and told Edd the reason why.

As Edd tried to calm himself down, his mind twisted towards Kevin...and what had happened. As Edd thought about Kevin, about the incidents, about... Kevin's bed. Edd felt hotter than before. As Edd snapped back, in a very violent matter, from his daydreaming, he was aware of what had happened. He was thinking of Kevin, and he had felt...he felt...

Edd got out of the shower, he had to read Marie's emails...he had to know why she wrote, what she wrote and why now. As Edd put his clothes on, finishing with his black beanie, he thought of Lyon this time...of what he had said. As Edd deeply meditated on the subject he realized he wasn't discarding such an absurd and socially unaccepted idea or possibility. If Edd was unconsciously moving up on the stages of... gayness... he was in trouble, and he had to test himself. He had to know and make sure there was nothing wrong with him.

It was 6:30 am, Edd was thankful Saturday's wasn't his day to open up at the caffé because it was when the manager always did and so he had until 7am to check in. Edd was aware he had half an hour, and counting...he was in trouble. Edd had to hurry, he had no time to waste...the email, would have to wait. Edd quickly got out of his bathroom, packed his laptop into his messenger bag, grabbed his wallet and cellphone, poured his coffee (also Kevin's) into his mug, and ran off. Edd knew he had little time to make it to his work, but he wasn't going to run just yet, he had time.

7 o'clock, checked in, nearly made it, and his manager was laughing at his dedication. Another saturday at the caffé, except for the "nearly made it" part. But, how normal would it be? Edd's mind tore at him between thoughts of Kevin and Lyon and his question. "Are you gay?...". And those emails...those mysterious emails from Marie. Why wait two years? Marie was winning, why? Prioritizing someone who Edd thought he'd never see again, who never wrote back since that night. His thoughts turned at that moment into Lyon's question, and it was being paired with Kevin. Turmoil, his head was a war zone, and Edd was almost thankful for the customer bell ring. Almost, for the voice that came next when Edd snapped back made him flinch.

Lyon: Hey Double D, sleep well buddy?
Edd: Ugh, not so well Lyon, what may i get you?
Lyon: Oh, dude relax, we have time for that, it's 9.
Edd: I must insist, if more clientele were to come i wouldn't like to inconvenience them.
Lyon: Dude! Relax, who comes at this hour?
Edd: Well...teachers for starters and...

As Edd pondered on who actually woke up so early on a weekend when midterms were right around the corner, he had to admit Lyon had a point. No one really woke up early, everyone tried to refill batteries for the week as study filled the schedule for everybody.

Lyon: And...no one else

Edd sighed.

Edd: i guess you're right.
Lyon: Dear me, is the great Double D accepting he was wrong in front of me?
Edd: Don't make a fuss of it Lyon.
Lyon: Me? A fuss? None at all, i am flattered at such courtesy and honor of your apology.
Edd: I am not perfect Lyon.
Lyon: Depends on the observer.

Edd froze as he heard those words yet again...was Lyon? Was the question...? Edd shook such thought from his mind, Kevin couldn't have told Lyon, then again...why such a phrase?

Lyon: Hey, can we try something new today?
Edd: New?

Edd slightly blushed as he thought on Kevin and reacted to Lyon's voice. He was unaware he had a nice pink line across his face, nor did he intend Lyon to know what he was thinking.

Lyon: Drink Edd, i'm talking about drinks.
Edd: Oh. Yes. Certainly, what do you have in mind this time Lyon?
Lyon: Let's give this a try...out of your drinks, i find you make a delicious cappuccino, and though i've visited you this week and i haven't tasted all the mixes of the syrups...
Edd: I see you're fancying something elaborate.
Lyon: Elaborate? Is coffee elaborate? Coffee is such a simple delicacy dear Edd. I just wish to find my own drink...as i wish it.
Edd: Just what this establishment wishes.

Lyon chuckled.

Lyon: So, cappuccino with...hmm. Something sweet, the grain is kinda acidic and has a zing...and sugar completely unbalances the flavor.
Edd: Coconut?
Lyon: Excelent, but too much sweetness takes the coarse earthy taste of the coffee nut, so we need to give it back, something bold and full.
Edd: Nuts would go greatly with such description, though i'm uncertain which you'd choose. We have: hazelnut, almond, roasted nut.
Lyon: Let's try hazelnut.
Edd: Ok, let me prepare your drink.

Edd quickly gave Lyon the price and proceeded to diligently and smoothly go through all the steps of the bars. Lyon was fascinated, as he watched the slim man glide through the bar grabbing cups, working machines, mixing syrups, taking timers, he was fascinating. Lyon followed him with admiring eyes, he was so coordinated, so graceful. As Edd finished his drink, Lyon lifted himself from the counter, he had been watching Edd all the time leaning on the counter...that must've been uncomfortable. Thankfully, Edd seemed to have not noticed this, and so Lyon payed up and stayed to chat a bit more. First though, he had to give this drink he and Edd had created a try. A sip, heaven, glory, deliciousness, Lyon was in full bliss as the perfectly balanced, flavorful, sweet, bold, full bodied yet soft coffee drink passed through his mouth and slid down his throat. As Lyon gave a sigh of pleasure out loud, he couldn't help but here a faint feminine giggle. Lyon blushed pink as he turned to face Edd at the counter.

Lyon: Dude, this shit's delicious...make it my regular.
Edd: Capuccino with coconut and hazelnut, you may rest assured i wont forget it from now on Lyon.
Lyon: Dude, no, seriously this is awesome. I knew you were good, I mean Kevin always mentioned it, but this is nothing less than heaven-sent.
Edd: You flatter me Lyon, but I just do my job.
Lyon: Fuck that, doing this job is what the other half-ass employees here do. YOU! You have a talent.
Edd: Mind your language Lyon, you are in a public place.
Lyon: Hell no, i'll say what i want, you are incredible man!
Edd: Please, i must ask you to contain yourself. It's not like i'll do this all my life.
Lyon: Really?! Never thought of perhaps making your own coffee shop or caffé?
Edd: Nope, it's not in my list of aspirations or goals. This is a job i merely carry on so my personal economy is more comfortable and allows me to enjoy myself.
Lyon: Damn, then who ever marries you is seriously lucky. Waking up to something like this would sure brighten my day up.

Edd frozen momentarily as he thought those words over. Was he giving them more meaning than they actually had? Was his mind simply unstable? Edd was going crazy, his stress and mental stability was shaky.

Edd: Lyon, i have something to ask you.
Lyon: My my, what is it dear?
Edd: Please...in all seriousness...why did you ask me THAT?

Lyon gazed into Edd's eyes, he was serious, clear hints of mental stress and pain in them. Lyon hadn't expected this to happen, that question usually got an evasive answer (meaning a yes or probably) or a straight out no (among other variations of frasing it). Lyon had never experienced someone have a literal internal turmoil, a mental breakdown, an existencial conflict over such question...until now. Lyon couldn't help himself, he felt responsible, he felt...guilty. Lyon knew he was gonna be dead man after this, but he couldn't leave Edd in such a state. Lyon, placed a gentle hand on Edd's right cheek, cupping his face, eyes met, and Lyon lowered his own external mask.

Lyon: Double D, it was just a simple question. I know it was very abrupt, but i just had to know. You see, everyone wants to know "who am i?". Dont you think it is always hard to ask and to answer that question? Now a days, that question i asked you, is actually one that is usually ignored by society...a taboo. I find it unfair...why descriminate because of sexuality? I mean, we are no different...our taste simply is. It doesn't make us monsters. We are just misunderstood...you of all people, such a brilliant mind, i thought you'd share my view.
Edd: Lyon..

Edd's mind had calmed, it was soothed by Lyon's words and voice. A deep lamenting voice, quite manly but sincere and vulnerable. Edd could feel how Lyon poured his emotions out, his deepest thoughts, and Edd couldn't help but wish to hold him and hug him and comfort him...not the other way around. Edd was dazed as he saw Lyon with new eyes...a new light, he was no ordinary jock.

Lyon: Edd, i'm very sorry i caused you so much pain.
Edd: Lyon, it's nothing like that...it's just that.
Lyon: Hey...dont worry. i dont want an answer...sometimes...you just have to jump.

As Lyon said these words he leaned over the counter as he pulled Edd close to him. Edd couldn't move, couldn't react, mesmerized or hypnotized he simply let himself go. A deep warm sensation filled him, his brain could only give him one absolute and proper diagnose: he needed this. Edd was fully aware he had just met Lyon, that Lyon was another man...that this meant he was... Still, he couldn't stop, he couldn't make his body stop what was going to happen, and he wasn't afraid nor startled...he was going along willingly. But to his surprise, lips barely away from each other, feeling each other's breaths in their faces (a clear soft coconut with hazelnut coming from Lyon), Lyon peck kissed Edd almost on his right cheek, over his lips. They looked at each other, the atmosphere felt hot and intense to Edd, who just stood there looking at Lyon.

When Edd was finally able to muster from his body a sound, what came out brought both boys back to reality and into a cry of giggles from both. Edd had given out a distinctive, sexual, sexy, morbid moan of pleasure, which sounded almost to a girl's. It was quite a sound Edd had never imagined he had in him, and he was completely ashamed of it...but Lyon's giggles and presence actually made him also laugh at his own body. Still, Edd couldn't deny the moment that had just gone by, and it was possibly the moment to get some answers...Lyon was gay after all...right? Edd straightened himself out, and looked at Lyon again...he looked different now. Edd could've possibly said he was simply enraptured by the moment, but in reality Lyon had changed his demeanor with Edd. He wasn't the teasing jock, who admired and praised Edd, he looked... mature. As the morning sunlight came through the window and illuminated the tanned skin of the dark hair man giggling in front of him, Edd smiled. Lyon looked more relaxed now, he looked wise and strong, he had opened up to Edd and showed him his deepest secret (possibly).

Edd: Lyon...
Lyon: What is it Double D?
Edd: So, you're gay right?
Lyon: Well, that's kinda too specific...

Lyon played with the cap of his drink as he mustered himself to be full out honest with Edd. Edd was going through a crisis, and if Lyon couldn't at least set an example to him... well. He wanted to avoid any more pain to Edd and help Edd understand that there are different types of people out there.

Lyon: You see Edd, i actually like girls...but i do like guys too.
Edd: You mean...both?
Lyon: On equal terms, yes.
Edd: Could you develope the concept further, please?
Lyon: Such formalities, dear god Edd we aren't british!

Edd giggled to the last comment, and felt Lyon's hand lifting his chin to face him.

Lyon: Damn, i love that laugh!

Edd blushed as he finally saw through Lyon, the emotions dwelling.

Lyon: Tcht, i see i've been caught huh? Either way, don't worry Double D, you must first know who you are and what you like. You see, no one can force you to be someone you aren't or do something you don't like.
Edd: Should've met me when i was younger.
Lyon: You did such things surely cause of your friends, or cause you liked someone...still it's cause you liked being with THEM.

Edd couldn't deny such deep analysis and accurate point.

Lyon: Listen, take your time...i never wanted an answer. But, it isn't wrong or bad to be however and whoever you are. Everyone is different mate, but be proud of who you are.

Edd gazed at Lyon, his words had given him new hope and energy and an unexpected calm to his internal turmoil. Still, one question now floated on Edd's mind "was he gay?". How could he know?

Edd: Lyon...could i ask you a favor?
Lyon: For you? Anything.
Edd: Lyon...am i gay?

Lyon was shocked for once at his own question being bounced back at him. It was usually a personal matter, how could he advise or orient someone on that?!

Lyon: Well...you see...

As Lyon, tried to explain the attentive and adorable Edd which gazed at him as a kid gazed to a mentor, he was startled by the voice that rang behind them.

Kevin: What are you doing here moron?!

Lyon did a small jumpscare as he abruptly turned around to face Kevin. Was he caught? Was he gonna be murdered? He was relieved to see Kevin only carried his training gear. Edd, on the other side of the counter, was left in the air, but he could recognize that voice anywhere. An indescribable emotion of glee and nerves got to him as the name "Kevin" jumped to his brain. He felt light headed and strange in his stomach, gastritis? Whatever it was, Edd wanted to talk to him...needed to, he had to clear things up. Edd had almost completely forgotten of Lyon's answer to his question, but, then again, a source of his doubts had just arrived. Edd could take the opportunity and with the help of Lyon, see why Kevin made him (Edd) feel so...different.

Edd: Good Morning Kevin! I'm surprised to find you here so early at this hour.
Lyon: I was just leaving Kev. Don't get so nervous, i didn't do anything to Double D.

"Just leaving"? That was a lie, and Edd knew it, but he also knew that perhaps the three of them together could've made everything a bit uncomfortable. With the way Kevin and him had been getting along lately, what he felt and what had just happened minutes ago, Edd felt better to let Lyon go.

Edd: Well, it was a pleasure talking with you Lyon. Will I see you again?
Lyon: Well, maybe if you come by the dorm tonight.

An absolute, dense silence fell on the whole caffé. Sure, it was empty and there were no clients at the hour, but that actually made the silence worse...and absolute. Lyon's laugh cut through it like a searing blade.

Lyon: That came out so wrong! I'm sorry Double D, Kev. Ok, ok, what i meant is that if Kevin takes you to our dorm, i will be there.
Kevin: If i do what?!

Kevin was red in fact, Edd couldn't differentiate, anger and/or shame, but he had his sights set on Lyon.

Lyon: Ok i'll shut up, you guys know what i mean. Any ways... i'll see you later roomie. And Double D, think about it, it might be a great opportunity.

Lyon winked and secretly lifted his finger in a motion of silence. Edd understood the protocol of what such gesture meant. He was being asked to keep a secret, the moment both he and Lyon had just had in fact. Edd saw Lyon walk out of the coffee shop and quickly stroll to a bike he had stationed on the garden, those would need some tending later. Finally, Edd focused on Kevin, the stunning athletic figure standing in front of him. He was wet and held a muscle tight turtle neck black long sleeve shirt, with thick grey pants. Kevin looked like he was ready to go out, err, hang out, but it was still 10:30. If Edd's observational skills didn't mislead him, Kevin had come out of practice and had taken a quick shower, possibly stopping by for his usual drink and he'd be off. Of course, that was the extent to which Edd's mind could analyze, but his heart and emotions fluttered other thoughts; the most dominant was a repeating message in red letters that said: "he came to see me!".

Kevin: What was that idiot doing here?
Edd: I fail to understand your question Kevin. This is the campus coffee shop, we sell a wide range...
Kevin: Yeah yeah yeah, i know that...did he talk to you?
Edd: I engage in short conversations with clients as courtesy and while they wait for their drink Kevin. And talking with a friend would also be considered normal.
Kevin: Ugh, dork, you are gonnna give me a headache. What did you two talk about?
Edd: Well, it would seem the drink i prepared today for Lyon was exactly to his liking. He informed me it would be his regular from now on.
Kevin: Only that?
Edd: The conversation was quite thorough Kevin, I was quite impressed of the knowledge Lyon had on coffee. He actually specified the flavors and sensation he...
Kevin: Ok ok, got it.

Kevin had made a pout, and had started staring out the window in an annoyed way as if he was making sure Lyon wasn't looking. Kevin made his way to a table along the wall which had a couch and dropped his stuff. He seemed quite fresh and tired, though his anger didn't make him look so. As Kevin turned away and placed his stuff, Edd quickly fixed Kevin his drink. He didn't do it methodically though, he felt actually compromised in making the beverage the best possible. As Kevin came back to the counter with a more relaxed face and possibly state of mind, he noticed Edd was already extending him his beverage. Both hands cupping the drink, extended outwards and steam still coming out from the drinking hole of the lid, it was an endearing gesture and Kevin couldn't help but soften up and smile endearingly at Edd.

Kevin: Thanks Double D, give me a sec.

Kevin quickly payed up, and gave a long sip to his drink, perfect as always. As Kevin sighed openly and had his usual face of pleasure, Edd couldn't help but feel his stomach turn (not in pain clearly). His heart also skipped a beat. The moment quickly faded as Kevin pointed out a detail Edd had looked over in Lyon's final words.

Kevin: So...what is it he wants you to think about?

Edd actually stopped cleaning all the utensils as he stood dead still on those words. He had no answer... not one without the truth, but Lyon had motioned him to keep it as a secret. Edd considered lying. Lie to Kevin...would he really start off his relationship with Kevin with a lie? Relationship... friendship... Edd's mind started breaking to the indecision of the status of his emotions. He had to give an answer to Kevin, so he told the truth... with certain details omitted... that's not lying... right?

Edd: We were merely talking on a personal matter of mine.
Kevin: Oh...i see, care to share? I'm your friend after all.

Edd sighed deeply as he gave Kevin bits of information.

Edd: Well, it's quite complicated...there are things that i wish to know or do by myself or with another person, but i don't know if i should. And my mind is sort of a mess for the moment.
Kevin: Yeah i can see that. Is it a girl?
Edd: Well... like i said... it's comp...

Edd had raised his gaze and stopped cleaning to watch Kevin giggling as he texted and played with his phone. Edd felt a strong disaproval emotion risen with him. He was quite annoyed Kevin wasn't paying him attention. Edd was self conscious he was a very shy and an introvert person, he rarely shared his personal matters unless he trusted the person. He was pouring his deep thoughts with Kevin, he should at least pay attention.

Edd: Kevin!
Kevin: Yeah, i'm hearing ya. Sorry Double D, it's Nazz.
Edd: And what were you two talking about.
Kevin: Geez, you sound like my girlfriend.

Edd blushed slightly at the comment but kept his composture. Kevin seemed to finish using his cellphone as he put his cellphone away and turned to gaze at Edd.

Kevin: It's nothing, she was just annoyed that i wasn't going to see her today. She even threatened to go out with the dork of Eddy, that was why i laughed...i mean, why would she? The dork's an idiot and...

Edd: Kevin!
Kevin: Oh, sorry Double D. Point is, she was mad.
Edd: I know it's a delicate subject between us as you never got along Kevin, but Eddy's...
Kevin: Yeah yeah yeah, whatever...now, come sit here with me and let's talk.
Edd: Kevin, i'm working. I can't
Kevin: Can't or don't want to? No one's here Double D, loosen up.

Edd looked everywhere, as if searching for a camera or some device stalking him. He had gotten paranoid, and Kevin was amused watching the adorable Double D look and shake his head frantically making sure he wouldn't be caught. Kevin couldn't make himself say a sly comment or bother him... he just couldn't. To Kevin, Double D was simply unique... and that was why he had come to see him at work even before their official time to meet. Edd, finally finished his paranoidal search, took his apron off and moved to sit beside Kevin. He had his feet crossed, hands between his legs, head down and a very shy face. Kevin couldn't stop watching him, admiring him, falling for him...falling?

Kevin: Snap out of it Double Dork, it's not a crime!

Edd slightly jumped and gazed left and right and finally looked back at Kevin. Kevin couldn't contain his laughter, he swayed back and forth, grabbing his stomach, and finally placed an arm around Edd.

Kevin: Oh, relax Double D, what's in your mind?
Edd: Quite a lot, i don't know where to start.
Kevin: Is it a girl? Will i be the first to know who the amazing Double D likes?

Kevin was so wrong on that, but Edd wouldn't share that detail just yet.

Edd: I dont fancy a girl or anyone for the moment, but yes a girl is among the problems...along with some personal doubts.
Kevin: OH...

A silence was left, but Kevin didn't take his arm off Edd, and Edd was thankful for it. Edd slightly leaned on his shoulder as he relaxed and eased a bit in Kevin's warmth. Kevin was the one to return to the topic.

Kevin: Well, why dont you just tell her or go out with her? Maybe you'll end up liking her.
Edd: I'm not a man to lead on a girl with false hopes. Much less one to take advantage of a lady in such a way. It's indecent and disrespectful.
Kevin: Oh, come on Double D, we are men.
Edd: But not animals. I will only be with someone i truly like or love.

Kevin was stupefied at such strong statement.

Kevin: Wow, that was...
Edd: Stupid and gay..i know.

Edd bowed his head, he was embarassed and ashamed his pride and respect towards the female gender had made him seem like an idiot, a dork and a virgin to Kevin. He hoped Kevin wouldn't judge him, perhaps tease him a while or give a snotty comment, but not hold it against him. He had always been very respectful, he never wanted to cause harm to anybody, regardless the method. Kevin, on the other hand, felt his ears burn as he saw his friend, the dork right beside him slump in shame on such a proper and brave comment. Kevin, couldn't allow it. Kevin grabbed Edd by the shoulders and made him face him.

Kevin: Dont you ever say that again! Who cares if you are a dork or gay or whatever, you are the most proper and amazing person i know! I wont allow you to be ashamed of who you are Double Dork, be a man! Men stand up for what we want, what we believe, and if someone as simple minded and stupid as me can hold his head high...Well, you can too.

Edd: Kevin...

Edd gazed at Kevin with teary eyes...his straight forward speech had been the greatest praise Edd had been given in years...in his whole life. Kevin was breathing heavily, and noticed he might be holding Edd too roughly. Kevin let go, and an awkward silence was left between them as Edd tried to hide his big, teary blue eyes from Kevin. Kevin tried hiding his face, he didn't want Edd to see him blush or read into him. Edd calmed down, sighed and broke the silence.

Edd: Thanks Kev, i guess do have to man up to things.
Kevin: Oh, shut it dork. It was nothing.
Edd: But it was.
Kevin: Geeze Double Dork, dont get so soft doofus, you make my point go to waste.

Edd giggled at the truth of the comment and soon Kevin joined him. The two boys fell in a loud laughter, slightly embracing each other for support, and Edd felt himself slipping. They seemed like the best friends in the world...or a couple of sorts. Although, for a couple, they didn't accept each other or allowed themselves to "slip". As fate would have it, they were separated once again by the chime of the door, a customer. Edd got up, and straightened his attire, sure it must've looked weird but they didn't mind, nothing had happened. Edd had to return to his duties, and so he exchanged a few words with Kevin.

Edd: Well, forgive me Kevin, but duty calls and i must...
Kevin: Yeah yeah. I know Double Dork. I have to study some classes too, so i'll be fine.
Edd: Ok, if you wish me to bring you anything...
Kevin: I'll scream it out.
Edd: Couldn't you just possibly stand up and come to the counter?
Kevin: And get up from this comfy place? NAH! Besides you know what i want.
Kevin And Edd: Double Mocha Latte with Hazelnut and no foam.

The two boys laughed and Edd moved back behind the counter. Half past 11, almost the end of his schedule.


12 o'clock, Edd was just checking out and felt a slight remorse as he saw the half stacked coffee shop and seeing he was leaving two fellow baristas and the manager alone. He had just checked out and, already, there were spilled coffee and milk, syrup bottles were out of place and the place looked hectic, but Edd had something more important to do. Edd moved to where he had left Kevin, who had been "studying". The few times Edd glanced over in this direction, Kevin was texting or talking by the phone, always laughing and quite relaxed. Just like right now. Edd sat right across from Kevin and took his laptop out, he had to check THAT email...Marie's.

Kevin: Sorry Double D, that was Nazz. Man she's a lively one.
Edd: Miss her?

Kevin's smile faded at the question, he and Nazz had always been together...a power couple, per se. They had been close friends all their lives and dated all four years of High School. She had grown very athletic, with a petite flat body. Kevin never paid attention much on her physique or complaints, mostly cause she was stunning and cause he had fallen for her personality. Lively, fresh, kind, good natured and brilliant Nazz had acing grades in most classes (except physics and math), long strong toned curvy legs, round full butt, slim figure with flat marked abs, toned arms and flat chest (her eternal complaint). She was, without a doubt, the queen in their Highschool and everybody fancied her, Edd included and he could never deny it. Kevin missed her without a doubt, but they stayed in contact a lot. They hadn't gotten back together...not since after prom. Though each lived prom separately (in a way), to both boys, prom had been a decisive point in their lives and had changed them.

Kevin: Yeah, happens when you leave life long friends behind.
Edd: I know the feeling.
Kevin: We can always visit them and stay in touch though... thank god technology.
Edd: You are addicted to it dear Kevin.
Kevin: Am not!

Both boys giggled, but Edd's laughter came to a sudden stop as he opened the pending emails and read them. To Edd, the past had finally caught up to him. Two short emails...one clear strong message.


from: MARIE (mkanker...) Oct. 3 (4 days ago)

to: ME

Hey Double D, hope you haven't forgotten me, i haven't forgotten you, of course you can see it by my art. Dont worry, you dont have to ask, i'm fine, tough girl right? Hey i haven't heard from you in a while, missed your birthday August 28th right? You know mine's coming soon right? Guess where i'll be.

Miss you,
Marie


from: MARIE (mkanker...) Oct. 6 (yesterday)
to: ME

Must be busy or in exams to ignore an email. I know how you are with these things, you must have like a million folders for everything. I always found that cute you know. Any way i'm in town, yours, so i'll visit you and take you out. Dont make plans, i havent seen you in forever and i got you a gift. So, i'll pass by at 1pm, i'll try to be on time. Still in that prestigious university right? I know the address.

See you soon,
Marie


YESTERDAY...Edd would have to see Marie today. Marie was still strongwilled apparently, but that also caused trouble as Edd had agreed with Kevin to hang out at 3 (though they had seen each other earlier). Edd's mind was a storm once again and stress piled on him as he wondered what would Marie wish to talk or why seek him out until now. Also, he was uneasy on how to explain to Kevin he'd have to go out before their agreed time and hopefully make it back on time. Edd was starting to be in pain and Kevin was quick to pick up on the fact that something was wrong.

Kevin: Something wrong Double D?

Edd barely reacted to Kevin's voice, his mind was focused on Marie. She had been absent in his life for 2 years. Anyone would perhaps forget someone they hadn't seen or known of in 2 years, except Edd. Edd kept tabs on everyone of the Cul-de-Sac, he knew where everyone was and what was of their lives- for starters he knew what was going on with the Kankers. He knew Johnny had outgrown Plank (finally) and gone to Europe to study Culinary Arts. Nazz and Eddy were nearby and Nazz had opted for Pediatrician (coursing her final year in Pre-Med). Rolf had moved with his family to a large estate in Maine where he continued his farmer ways and was studying Agricultural Engineering. By visits he knew Sarah and Jimmy were seniors in Highschool and they had quite a brutal past. Sarah had dated him apparently and after a few months broke up. Jimmy ended up dating guys but remained best friends.

Edd had never forgotten about anyone, but he didn't stay in constant contact with anyone but Eddy, Ed and Kevin (for obvious reasons). But, out of all of them, Edd had kept the closest tabs on Marie; something inside him wanted to know if she was doing alright. Under normal circumstances, such actions could be considered stalking, but when it came to a celebrity...things worked differently.


Marie Kanker, the Art Prodigy, the modern Picasso, Monet Heir, was well known. Though she had competed and been recognized artistically in Highschool, the story didn't end there. Marie had been scouted internationally by art schools who longed to "teach" her, and Edd knew that would never happen. Marie was a determined, strong willed, passionate and impulsive girl, and Edd had grown fond of her in Highschool. In Senior Year Marie had considered dropping out of School and start painting as a profession, no classes and straight to galleries...she graduated cause Edd persuaded her. Of course, Edd always said he had "persuaded" Marie into graduating, but he knew the truth. In that single line conversation, Edd had only said "I want you to stay". So, Marie graduated but she had kept true to her word of going to galleries with her pieces. It was a rough start between critics and praises, but no patronages and earning minimal money out of works she poured her soul into.

She was an abstract painter but, more than abstract, Marie poured her soul and emotions into every thing she created. When it came down to facts, staying in School was perhaps the best decision in Marie's life as she had a place to go and continue working as her name, pieces and fame started to grow and boom. Post Graduation, Marie had been recognized nationally and had won a contest where her collection would be show-cased in New York. Unlike her sisters, Marie didn't opt for a college or university nor art school, she kept painting. Edd remembered reading the Newspaper 2 days after prom where Marie was on the cover shacking hands with Queen Elizabeth, it was quite the sensation and the start of the prodigy.

Over the first year, Marie was mentioned in various newspapers worldwide as her art and pieces grew in fame, money and she traveled. Edd felt glad she was doing so well on her own, but he was more impressed on two things: Marie never appeared in any magazine what-so-ever and thus never selling her image to the media. Secondly, Marie (Edd knew this personally by one visit home) had used all her initial saving to move her family (mother and sisters) out of the trailer park and into a proper, nice, three story large house in the outskirts of the Cul-de-Sac (5 minute drive). Marie actually helped pay for Lee's and May's studies, but she, herself, was never seen or mentioned in spending her money on large luxuries (fine clothes maybe). To Edd she was a respectable woman, a role-model and his past. Though he longed to speak with her, he feared what they would speak of.

Edd: a scientist, curious, control freak and calculative, and Marie: free spirited, impulsive, passionate and relaxed. They were opposites and had chosen very different roads in life. Edd had thought the road would never cross again, but he was wrong, and he would have to face and settle his past. What had happened two years ago, would be questioned today.

Edd: It's nothing Kevin, did i daze off for too long?
Kevin: 15 minutes, thought you were dead.

Both boys laughed and Edd closed his laptop, put it in his messenger bag and stood up.

Edd: Shall we walk Kevin?
Kevin: Ugh, I was so comfortable!
Edd: Very well, i'll see you...

Kevin stood up before Edd could finish and had all his stuff and gear ready.

Kevin: I said "was", Double Dork.
Edd: The insult was unnecessary.
Kevin: Then stop taking it as one, who else calls you that?

Edd stood opened mouth as Kevin walked past him and held the door open. He had won that argument. Edd walked towards the door and crossed it as he gave Kevin a "thank you". They were out of his sanctuary and into the real world...and it was T-40 minutes.

Kevin: Where to Double D? I have to go leave my gear at my dorm you know.
Edd: I am aware of your predicament and the fact that you're carrying quite the load. But, i must apologize Kevin for i must hurry to the Parking lot.
Kevin: The one near your dorms right?
Edd: Sort of, it's basically down this path and garden.
Kevin: I'll walk with you then.
Edd: It's quite the detour from your dorms Kevin
Kevin: It's just a small break.
Edd: I-I dont know Kevin, i mean, you look tired and...
Kevin: Shut up Double Dork. I'm a man, a walk wont kill me.

Edd sighed heavily, worried.

Edd: Very well.
Kevin: But... if you don't want me...
Edd: NO! I mean, yes. I mean...i want you to stay.

It was the second time Edd had used that phrase in his life.

Kevin: Ok ok, let's not get all sensitive. By the way, why are you going to the parking lot?
Edd: I'm going to see someone...
Kevin: OOOOH, well well, am I going to meet the mistery lady?
Edd: Dont tease Kevin... but yes.

Edd was serious and Kevin noticed it, he found it peculiar.

Kevin: Well, why aren't you happier about it? I mean, if I were to meet a girl...
Edd: It's a complicated thing?

Kevin fell silent to those words, they cut through him. Kevin felt a pain in his chest but didn't dare show it. He asked one simple question.

Kevin: Should i leave?

Edd looked up at Kevin, breathed deeply and softened his composure.

Edd: I need a friend right now. You being here is what i need.

Kevin blushed and felt his face burn up. He was ashamed and quickly pointed out their location.

Edd turned his face and saw the parking lot. It was wide and not many cars where left on it- most students must've gone out to lunch. As Edd took a deep breath to steady his nerves, a black motorcycle entered. It's rider matched the color with a slim, tight leather outfit. Edd knew who the rider was. He felt it and braced himself as it moved closer. As the motorcycle revved in closer, Edd repeated like a mantra Kevin's words "be a man.". The bike stopped in front of them.

To Edd, Marie had changed little in the past 2 years, if anything he'd actually consider her more feminine. She had lost the army pants, surely she kept them somewhere in her house, and had opted for more feminine yet laid back clothes. Today, she looked stunning and Kevin stated it with a very vulgar and manly wolf howling at which Edd glared. Her tight leather clothing emphasized her perky, full C cup breasts. Her strong arms were feminine and curvy. Her slim legs were nicely toned and paired nicely with her small perky butt. Edd could recognize her with just the attire, yet Kevin seemed unaware of the identity of this girl as he received her in such a ...vulgar manner. Hevpraised Edd on his "find". As the girl stepped off from the motorcycle, Edd noticed the army leather boots Marie always wore were replaced for a more feminine version (still leather, still army-ish).

He thought he could make out her deep dark eyes gleaming, with her wide smile and blue side bang covering one eye, through the black visor and helmet. Edd, though, focused on two details he had ignored up until this moment. She still used the punk wrist bands from school; with the usual spikes on her right hand, and a plastic, well cared, beautiful, light sky blue (almost whitish) rose corsage on her left wrist. Edd had given her that piece for Prom...that was 2 years ago. To Edd that only meant she had never forgotten and she had never stopped loving him, and that was what Edd feared the most. But, before anything else happened, before either boy could mutter another word or comment, Marie took off her helmet to reveal a very clean, silky smooth blue hair with black highlights cut in a chic 1980 neck-length style with the usual side bang covering her right eye. She wore a simple eye shadow of deep blue color with eye liner which emphasized her visible eye even more and made it seem beautiful.

Kevin's blood froze. He could've died based on how much color he lost. Edd was serious and mustered a crooked nervous smile as he tried to control his shaking body. Kevin had gone from praise and vulgarity to absolute silence and shock; he remembered her, and felt a strong anger boiling in him as she moved toward Edd. Edd's mind must've crashed and rebooted for he was idle for the whole minutes. Yet, both boys stood there, meeting the girl who had vanished for two years, and both knew was trouble. But to Kevin, he felt her more of a rival...though he was unaware on what. His guts churned as she stood facing Edd. Marie closed her eyes and eased herself into Edd's body and give him a quick, soft, girly, tender kiss on the lips. She grinned and her eyes narrowed as she "broke the ice" and silence between the three of them as she faced Kevin this time. She had made the first move.


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