A series of small, seemingly meaningless arguments leads up to the Peach Creek High Freshmen Dance, and a rather climactic revelation for the Eds.
'I wonder if I could get mine to look like that?'
It wasn't as if he were shy. Shame was a foreign concept to him (unless the word 'Skipper' was uttered anywhere within a twenty five mile radius). Rationalization was as well.
Rather, Eddy was so adept at rationalizing his insecurities and uncertainties that the process ran in the background of his mind, the act in itself acting as another layer of defense to keep his inflated ego from puncturing itself on any abnormalities. Hence, he knew no shame.
The idea that he might have preferred looking at lean muscles rather than pillowy curves came no to surprise when Eddy hit puberty. Granted, there was confusion at first. He had always assumed himself to take up the lineage of his older brother, becoming a 'lady killer' as was expected.
There was slight denial at first, and with it came the subconscious rationalization, but after a few months of soul searching, 'experimentation', accepting the random images of slender, flat chested bodies flashing through his mind while jerking (and watching the after school football scrimmages) Eddy realized he was gay.
After that, there wasn't much else. It wasn't a big deal. There wasn't any epiphany or angst. He just kept it to himself because he didn't really care. Maybe there was some tortured self conscious reason for that, but he'd deal with that as a forty year old in therapy. It really didn't affect him.
Though he'd never admit it to any of his friends (or enemies, seeing as he had a few more of them). It was like Skipper. That was his middle name and while he didn't love it, he didn't hate himself for it. He knew kids would make fun of it, understandably. Hell, he'd make fun of it. So like any halfway cognizant brainiac out there, he kept his mouth shut about. It's not like he had a problem with tenting at the sight of a bicep.
He understood the stigma, seeing as he had believed all of the stereotypes, up until discovering he was 'in the closet', and knew that there would be dire consequences to his reputation if he were to come open about his sexuality.
Eddy's acceptance was an odd contrast to the stark aversion he held when having learned about the idea.
"People do that!?" he spat, slurping some soda up his nose as he gagged. The anchorwoman continued droning on as the television showed two Danish men holding hands, smiling brightly at each other, and then at Eddy through the flickering, pixelated screen. His father grunted. His mother nodded curtly and changed the channel from the news to cartoons as they continued eating their meatloaf.
And that was that.
Who would've guess four and a half years later, Eddy would be stealing 'fag rags' along with his other magazines from the Peach Creek Quik Mart, just outside the school.
He hid them amongst his stash, knowing full well that Edd would never riffle through them (out of prude-ness, and hygienic reasons…), and Ed had his own collection to gawk at. And it's not like the girls were just for show. He could appreciate a pair of tits.
Snickering to himself, Eddy briefly wondered if Edd had some of his own.
'Probably some librarian looking chicks wearing nothing but lab coats.'
His thoughts were interrupted by the bell; sixth period was over.
Looking around himself, Eddy realized he had completely failed to finish the essay he was supposed to be writing on The Catcher and the Rye.
"Shit." he murmured, looking down to see only two words written on his paper.
The pro. - He wasn't even sure what he meant by 'pro'.
Behind him, Johnny was shoving his own paper against Eddy repeatedly for him to pass up.
"Come on Eddy! Get your head out of the clouds, yeesh!" the boy's voice grated against Eddy's ears, spurring to use an even shriller tone back at Johnny.
"Can it Melon Head!" he grabbed the boy's paper, crumpling it somewhat and earning a glare from Plank. Without any idea of what to jot down, what with not having read the book and all, Eddy simply handed his own blank page up along with Johnny's.
He scowled to himself, crossing his arms as his gaze drifted back to Kevin.
Or rather, Kevin's biceps. Still no tenting.
Eddy hated Kevin, oh yes, but he could appreciate a good pair of arms when he saw them.
Slightly disgusted with himself for allowing Kevin of all people to further lower his grade in English, Eddy collected his few belongings and stood up to meet Ed and Double Dee who were patiently waiting for him at the door.
"Didn't quite finish your assignment, Eddy?" Double Dee asked with what Eddy could only identify as false concern.
"Pfft, like I did." Ed said in a guffaw.
Eddy rolled his eyes, pushing past the lankier boy and tugging Ed along with him.
Edd simply let out a knowing sigh and followed behind his two friends, his messenger bag gently rubbing against his thigh as he walked.
Now, Eddward was a completely different animal. An animal made of fragile and deliberate, moral, mental walls. These glass barriers were frosted, but tall. Anyone could plainly see past them into the 'forbidden zone', but they were unsurpassable, keeping the boy locked in the own safety of what was known and familiar. He called this barrier: heterosexuality. Or rather, general anxiety disorder and asexuality, as a safe, family friendly alternative.
Sure, he would catch himself starring a second too long. And, there was the one occasion he had to excuse himself while watching Top Gun with Eddy, Ed, and his family. The volleyball scene got him every time. Which was weird because other guys did the same thing when girls played volleyball. He just felt impolite watching.
'That could've happened to anyone; it's nothing to be ashamed about. I'm going through puberty; a natural process for any adolescent my age. Perfectly bell curve.'
But then there was the touching.
Any touch, any contact, from Kevin pushing past him too close to Rolf slapping his butt in some sick form of congratulation used in his home country, to the occasional hugs Ed gave him, to the pats on the back and rubbing of thighs when Eddy sat by him. He would blush, sweat, burn. It made his natural finicky movements and twitches all the worse.
And yet, the boy still had no idea why.
He didn't want to know why.
"Sockhead, I'm talking to ya!" A hand passing too close in his air space dissipated the swirling thoughts inside Edd's head. He blinked, turning to his friend with a blank stare.
"My apologies, Eddy. I seemed to have 'zoned out'. I didn't get much sleep last night. What were you saying?"
"I'm saying when're you gonna grow some balls and ask some babe out to the dance?" Eddy asked, his voice thick with derision.
"Oh, well, I-" Double Dee stuttered unintelligibly as he slowly receded into his shirt. "I'm, I'm not entirely positive that I will b-be attending-"
Eddy bust out with a cackle, and Ed a chuckle. Double Dee harrumphed.
"I don't suppose either of you have dates for this upcoming Saturday?" Double Dee retorted, his shirt still pulled up to his nose.
Both boys fell into an awkward silence, considering their own predicaments.
"I've just gotta wait for the right girl to get the guts and ask me." Eddy turned from his friend with a proud smirk (and he honestly believed that), while Ed pondered about his own options.
"And by girl I mean Nazz."
"But Eddy!" Ed began in his usual fashion, his face contorted with extreme confusion. "If you take Naz, that leaves Sarah and the Kankers! Kankers! And Sarah is my baby sister! Two wrongs do not make a right Eddy."
"Chill, Ed. You can just go stag with Sockhead like you do every school dance."
"We will be alone together." Ed said with resolution as he looked to Double Dee, who had a rather sour look on his face.
"Please, Eddy. You know just as well as I that you'll be accompanying us 'stag' to this dance, that is if I even gather the gumption to attend. Drop the pretension, it's getting old."
"Pfft, fat chance. I'm a hot item. It's only a matter of time before someone asks." Eddy spat as he busted through the school's double doors.
Eddy would take no better a date than Naz. Which, deep down, he knew wouldn't happen because Kevin was a fat sack of dicks, thus giving him the excuse to simply go with Edd and Ed as he always had in previous years.
"And can-it about not goin'; you pull that for every dance." Eddy suddenly took a doe eyed stance and pulled his backpack over his head. "Oh dear me, I must attend to my homework and chores and boring books instead of being a normal kid, like everyone else!" his impression fell into a yell as he waved his hands in front of Double Dee, who looked hurt in return.
"Please, Eddy, you know how I hate those functions!"
"Yeah, well you're going So you drop the pretensile, why don'tcha." the shorter boy finished curtly as he marched ahead. Double Dee understood that was the end of that conversation.
He rolled his eyes and followed along, beckoning Ed away from a fire hydrant that seemed to have garnered his attention for some reason or another.
And then there was Ed. Plain, simple, good hearted Ed. Well, simple-minded.
Monsters, outdated horror movies from the 60s, crappy special effects, paint model figurines, stop-go claymation, mold, gravvy; these are the things that made up Ed's interests. He really had no time for girls. That being said, he was a teenager. A teenage boy, to be exact, and as such, he had urges. Unlike his two best friends, however, Ed wasn't gay. Maybe a little sensitive, but save the occasional homoerotic comment (almost always ironic), Ed was straight as an arrow.
While his sights weren't exactly set on any girl, Ed was well versed in romance. Seemingly transparent, there was a lot to Ed that wasn't exactly obvious, and as well as Eddy and Edd claimed to know Ed, there were things about him that no one would be able to guess. Like his love for 'romcoms' (When Harry Met Sally, Pretty Woman, Slagbar from Sector 9). Even more surprising was his keen observation skills. Granted, Ed's lack of intellect often neutralized any useful information he happened to pick up, but he still picked up quite a lot, including all of the subtle hints and tension between Edd and Eddy.
But he would never say anything.
That would just be mean.
Plus it kinda of freaked him out, when he wasn't jealous of the 'friendly' attention'. He just didn't like to see them get into pissing matches over nothing, not when there were better things to do.
Still, the banter between the two intrigued Ed to no end; he was happy to sit back and add the occasional sarcastic (well, his 'version' of sarcasm which was usually a non sequitur) comment as he watched his two best friends work/argue to create some scam so that he could bring it crashing down per usual. That's just how things were.
Ed's attention was called upon once more as Eddy grabbed the larger boy's collar, yanking it hard and bringing Ed to the ground.
"Jeez Lumpy, what are you, deaf? I said we're heading to the Quik Mart. No one's listening to me today." Eddy gave Ed a smack for good measure and helped him up. The tallest of the three quirked his eyebrow and rubbed the back of his head.
"What for, Eddy?"
"Jawbreakers! And some other stuff." Eddy gave his friend a knowing look and a slight nudge, to which Ed happily nodded and bit his lower lip.
By that, Eddy meant he was going to either buy/attempt to steal one single jaw breaker and nab a few Playboys (and if he was careful, a Blueboy. He'd trade the Penthouses and Playboys with Ed, and not just as an act.) while the cashier wasn't looking. Ed would play an arcade game or check out some of the black and white Monster's Attack Marvel comics. Edd would try and keep quiet by the refrigerated section, and occasionally buy something to 'throw off the scent' as Eddy called it. So basically Ed and Edd spent money so that Eddy didn't have to.
Scams weren't as easy to pull off during the school year, so the boys found makeshift ways to keep themselves occupied for free. Walks, the junkyard, sneaking into movies, begging for money around the arcades. Plus, most kids, including the Eds', had some sort of after school commitment; sports, clubs, tutoring, homework, or chores.
Today though, there was nothing, and so the boys were off to the Quick Mart.
"Eddy, I implore you to reconsider-"
"Save it, Einstien, you like splitting jawbreakers just as much as me or Ed, regardless of how much it costs."
"Yes, I love partaking in a solitary lick while Ed salivates over everything and you shove the hole darn thing in your mouth! Quite entertaining, and sanitary I might add." The trio burst through the store's doors, clanging a welcoming bell as they entered. The Quik Mart was small, cluttered, and smelt of magic markers, but it was one of the few convenient stores that side of town. Everything was overpriced and outdated, but it got by because of its late hours. The store had become a sort of hangout for kids when everything else was closed. During the day, however, it was virtually empty, making it a prime spot for the Eds to conduct their business expenditures.
"Just stand by the fridge and look pretty." Double Dee blinked hard as he received a light smack to his cheek.
Recovering, Double Dee straightened out his cardigan and calmly paced to where the milk sat. He began to sweat slightly and decided to occupy himself with something.
"Two fifteen? For a gallon of two percent? Absurd."
Ed, meanwhile. had already inserted a precious quarter into the coin operated Xevious sitting in a dark corner. Eddy scowled as he dug through his pockets, and then Ed's.
"You used a quarter without me!?"
"Aw come on Eddy! I gotta defend my high score!" Ed pushed the shorter boy back with his foot while the clerk watched the two tussle, looking uneasy.
"Quit bringing attention to us you big Lummox!" Eddy's voice hissed, hot and sheer in Ed's ear, which only made him push away harder. Eddy growled, rolling up his sleeves and crouching, ready to pounce onto Ed.
"Ahem." the clerk, a new, young brunette Eddy didn't recognize or notice up until that point, cleared her throat as she eyed the two.
Eddy gave a nervous chuckle, smiling as he straightened himself out. Ed ignored both, his eyes intent on the flashing screen in front of him. A thin sheen of perspiration built on his forehead as he dodge oncoming missiles.
"How much for three jawbreakers?" Double Dee's own voice startled both Eddy and the cashier.
Double Dee pulled out three quarters and laid them on the counter, then turned to Eddy, who only looked confused.
"Holding out on us?"
"Of course not. I had extra money is all." Edd answered politely as he took the jawbreakers and walked over to his two friends.
He handed one to Eddy, placed another in his bag, and held the last one above his head.
"I'm not gona gwab for it, Swock Head. Yeeth."
"Just a precaution." Double Dee answered in deadpan. The two stood behind Ed, who was still absorbed with killing the mothership, and watched.
Minutes passed, neither terribly interested in the record breaking score Ed has gained. Even the cashier had forgotten they were there.
Eddy's jawbreaker had dissolved considerably, and he looked displeased. His frown fell into a set grimace, one so commonly worn that wrinkles had discernibly grown around the boy's brow and mouth.
Edd could feel the tension, but said nothing.
"Die alien scum! Die!"
"Keep it down, Spock."
"Well, aren't you going to get your sordid reading materials? The store attendant seems to have drifted out to the back." Double Dee whispered to Eddy, who flinched from the proximity.
"Nah, we'll get 'em tomorrow."
"Isn't the dance tomorrow?"
"We'll get them Monday. What's your rush?"
A few more minutes passed. Ed was now battling the second mothership, a flurry of projectiles and oncoming ships flying past his own, miraculously.
His hands moved immaculately, almost to an unheard rhythm.
"So where'd you get the money from?" Eddy finally asked. Almost as soon as the words came from his mouth, Double Dee sighed, exasperated.
"I knew you were going to ask that; it was just a matter of time! Can't I have spare pocket change, how's it your-"
"We never have any money!"
"Because we always spend it on-"
"Well isn't that what friends are for!?"
"Jawbreakers and pornography!? No, Eddy, that is not what friends are for. A simply 'thank you' would suffice."
Double Dee had his arms crossed and was facing towards the exit. Eddy, hands deep in his own pockets, was kicking at a floor tile. Neither noticed the absence of 'pews' or button mashing, not until Eddy looked up.
"Hurry up and loose already, Ed-oh. You're done." Eddy stared up to Ed, who had his back turned to the game and was looking down at Eddy.
"Been done. You guys ruined my game." he answered, clearly aggravated, and rightfully so. While he still had the high score, Ed was further into the game than he had ever been (and, little known fact, further than ANYONE had ever been).
Double Dee turned around, face contorted with an almost maternal concern.
"Oh did we? Ed, I'm sorry."
Eddy rolled his eyes.
"Eh, it's no big deal. Like you said Eddy, we're coming back next week, right?"
There was that silence again.
"Uh, so you guys got jawbreakers?" Ed suddenly remembered. He hopped up and down excitedly as he looked from Edd to Eddy. "Where!? Where!?"
"Right here, Ed." Double Dee pulled Ed's from his bag and handed it to his friend. "There you go."
"Alright! Oh thank you Double Dee, thank you!" he yelled in his usual, upbeat and drawn out manner that suggested developmental problems.
Awkward silence averted, the trio left the Quik Mart, chit chatting about nothing as they headed back to the cul-de-sac.
The dance came up a few more times; Edd denied Ed's begging and Eddy's teasing, insisting he had 'more pressing matters' but knowing deep down he'd eventually give in.
The evening soon gave to a cool autumn breeze and a crisp, bright crescent. The boys parted ways just before the street lamps flickered on, and night fell over the small town of Peach Creek.