Wow. Wow. Words cannot begin to explain how crap I feel for leaving this update for so long. I am so sorry everybody. There shall be cookies and milkshakes given to all those who are willing to forgive me. I have excuses, many of them, but I won't ramble anymore. Instead, I will promise to try and update the next chapter much, much sooner than this one. Enjoy.
Edwina was halfway back home before she remembered what Nazz had said about the Foxy Coffee Café. Without pause she did a U-turn and headed back down the street to where the establishment was situated. She rummaged through her bag as she walked until she found what she was searching for: a copy of her resume that she had been carrying around since her arrival, just in case.
'Score one: preparation.' Tucking it into a more easily accessible place she walked on, the café's sign coming into view in the distance.
The bell above the door chimed as Edwina entered the bustling café. She strode up to the bar and waited patiently, contemplating another coffee while she was there. Before long a familiar blue-haired teen came into her line of vision.
"Hey there man, how's it going? What can I get for you today?"
"A job would be great." Marie laughed and looked around.
"Sure thing; let me get the manager for you – I'm a busy girl, you know." She waved at a smart-dressed middle-aged man across the room and gestured him over. He approached them with a questioning smile on his lips.
"What is it, Marie?"
"My friend Edwina here is looking for a job; think you can help her out, Greg?"
"I sure can try." Happy with his answer Marie nodded and wandered off to serve the other customers, leaving Edwina with Greg.
"So then," taking a seat on one of the stools he gestured for her to do the same "tell me – Edwina was it? Tell me, Edwina, why should I hire you?" The query was not meant to be intimidating, more like a conversation prompt.
'Alright E.D, time to put that smooth talking into action.'
"Well for one, I've had waitressing jobs before so I know how to handle customers and I can make a mean coffee." Greg laughed.
"Well that's good if you have already had waitressing experience –"
"I have my resume."
"You're prepared, too! Alright then, let's see it." He took the sheet from her outstretched hand and Edwina sat quietly and let her eyes wander while he read through her resume, nodding and humming affirmatively every now and then.
"Are you flexible with your schedule, Edwina?" She nodded and took his extended hand and shook it firmly.
"Well then, looks like you're hired! Come back here this Saturday at nine. A uniform will be provided for you." Returning his grin Edwina stood up and cast her eye briefly at the resume that he was still holding. Her glance did not go unnoticed. Greg smiled and winked companionably.
"You don't mind if I hold onto this, do you? Got to show it to the missus – she owns the place more than I do sometimes." He laughed again and Edwina joined in quietly.
"I don't mind."
"Excellent. See you next Saturday, kiddo. Remember, 9a.m sharp." With one last nod she turned to leave, returning Marie's wave as she passed.
The bell sounded again as she left and Edwina paused a moment to breathe in deep.
'Damn' she thought as she started for home again 'why do the uniforms have to have fox-eared headbands?' She was not sure whether to laugh of groan. 'I'm going to look ridiculous.'
Edd had been home for quite a some time, having turned down Eddy's proposal of 'hitting the town' as he had so eagerly put it.
'Honestly Eddy it's a school night: have you no control?' The brainiac sighed and scratched the top of his head through his beanie. He was currently elbow-deep in maths homework, but his empty stomach growled, demanding to be filled.
Sighing again he got to his feet and went into the kitchen, sticky notes on every surface, same as ever. There were no new ones for that day. Edd was not sure why he never took them down – he knew most of them by heart, why bother leaving them?
'It's really all you've got of your parents, that's why.' Suddenly irritable he ignored the thought and grabbed an apple, striding down the hall to the back door and standing in his yard. Biting viciously into the fruit he tried to focus solely on the crunching between his teeth.
"…best days without you are nothing in comparison…" The quiet singing drifted over the fence, alerting him to the presence of a certain artist next door. Grinning around his mouthful of apple Edd walked over to the source of the noise.
She was kneeling in the middle of her yard, wrapping wire around what appeared to be a tree sculpture made of clay. I could see that she had headphones in – obviously what she was singing along to – so I knew calling out to her would be pointless. Instead, I took one last bite and threw my apple in her direction; it rolled to a stop at her knee. It took her a moment to notice its appearance but when she did she sat up and looked around, rather closely resembling a meerkat, much to my amusement. When she saw me, her eyebrows pulled together in annoyance.
'Oh come now, I'm not that bad, am I?' I smirked 'Yes, yes I suppose I sometimes am.' She rose to her feet gripping the fruit gingerly by the stalk and approached the fence.
"You dropped this." She thrust it at my chest, much like she had with the money the other night. Her hands were cut and bleeding lightly.
"What on earth happened to your hands?" I asked. She thrust her chin in the direction of the sculpture over her shoulder.
"Wire." Was all she said.
I wanted to ask her if it hurt, but… 'Mustn't have her thinking I care, now can I?' I paused internally 'But wait… I don't care.' She was watching me closely as I thought, her eyes probing and unblinking. It was a little unnerving. To hide my lack of comfort I looked around as though bored. I could still feel her eyes on me so I turned to quirk an eyebrow at her.
"What?" She held the apple up in front of my nose.
"Take your damn apple." I chuckled and held out my hand. She let go of the stalk and it dropped with a gentle slap into my hand. Without another word she turned on her heel, already sticking her headphones back into her ears with slightly exaggerated movements.
'I get it, I get it: you don't wish to talk with me. Such a rude toy.'
I watched her for a little longer, considering throwing the apple again – I certainly was not going to be eating it now – and asking for my sketch early, but decided against it.
'It's a perfect excuse to see her for longer tomorrow – to study her more closely in uncomfortable surroundings.' I was interrupted from my thoughts by a sharp cry. I looked over to see her gripping her thigh, red seeping through her fingers.
"What did you do?" I called. She did not answer.
'She probably still has her headphones in, of course.' Rolling my eyes I put my foot in a conveniently placed hole in the fence and vaulted over, landing softly in the over-grown grass.
She was still clutching her leg; her eyes scrunched shut and teeth worrying away at her lip. She jumped when I placed my hand on her shoulder to announce my presence, scrambling away frantically before realising who I was.
'That's a bit of an odd reaction…'
Crouching down I waited for her to yank the buds out of her ears, smearing the white chords with blood from her shaking hands.
"What?" She demanded before I could so much as open my mouth. Her hands went back to cover the spot just above her left knee.
"Show me." I said, gesturing at her leg. Her answer was an attempt to rise to her feet and hobble towards her back door. I had to hand it to her: she was tougher than I gave her credit for. She made it almost ten unsteady steps before her foot got snagged in a piece of wire and she went crashing to the ground. Trying not to laugh I helped her to her feet again and was about to pick her up, bridal style, when she stopped me. Without a word she started towards her house again. It was evident from the grimace on her face that she was in a great amount of pain.
She stumbled again and being the gentleman that I am I took her arm to steady her. She did not object verbally to this, so we entered her house together.
She led us to her kitchen and slumped immediately onto a stool. Waving her hand limply she said "Cupboard below the sink." Her voice was weak. I pulled out a small first aid kit and placed it next to her on the counter. Glancing down at her leg I sighed and cleared my throat.
"You will need to remove your pants if I am to properly see the wound." Much to my relief she did not seem as outraged as I had anticipated. Rather, she sighed in a resigned, tired sort of way and reached for the kit.
"I can bandage it myself, don't worry." There was a pause as she unravelled the gauze "You'll have to show yourself out." I was tempted by her offer, I must admit. But, I reminded myself, if I were to learn anything about her I needed to see this through. People are most emotionally vulnerable when in pain, after all. Besides, I doubted she knew what she was doing: she had not even got out the disinfectant. Rolling my eyes I eased the gauze out of her hands and, ignoring her protests, gave her the sternest glare I could muster.
"Your jumper is more than long enough, now stop being stubborn and let me see it before it becomes infected. Look, I'll even turn around until you're ready." I turned my back to her before she could argue again. Hearing her muttering angrily under her breath I managed to suppress my grin until something clattered to the floor followed by a light yelp.
"Stupid first aid kit with its stupid dish." My grin widened. I cleared my throat loudly again.
"Is it safe to turn back around now? Or would you like to destroy a few more things first?"
"It's safe." She answered in a voice that clearly longed to say something more offensive.
She was still perched on the stool but her pants were folded and sitting neatly across the section of her lap that her jumper did not cover.
Okay, I'll admit that I was being stubborn, but to be fair, he did just ask me to take my pants off. I mean, yes I had accidentally dropped my pliers and cut my leg, and yes I was in a lot of pain, but I've dealt with worse. This was just… awkward. I relented when I saw that he didn't plan on going anywhere (and to be honest, I had no idea what I was doing, but there was no way I was going to admit that to him), thankful for my long jumper.
Getting my pants off without causing too much pain was difficult, to say the least, and completely unsuccessful. Somehow I managed to knock a small tray from the first aid kit onto the floor with a resounding clatter.
"Stupid first aid kit with its stupid dish." I muttered angrily under my breath. What is it even for anyway? Useless bloody thing. After a few moments more shark-boy piped up, his tone snide.
"Is it safe to turn around now? Or would you like to destroy a few more things first?" Grinding my teeth together, I considered letting him in on all the wonderfully British insults he was missing out on, but the searing pain in my thigh made me hold my tongue for the time being.
"It's safe." I spat. He turned around and his eyes darted to my leg with an expression of mild disgust.
"So filthy." He murmured. I rolled my eyes.
After rummaging through the first aid kit he extracted some alcohol swabs and gingerly dabbed at the wound. I couldn't help the hiss that whistled past my clenched teeth; Edd didn't even look up.
"It isn't as deep and I thought; just a graze, really."
'Easy for you to say, ass.'
"You shouldn't do a lot of physical activity for a few days though; let it heal over properly."
There goes my dream of joining the relay team then.'
What are these other scars from?"
'I had a disagreement with a feisty sharp-toothed midget – wait –'
"These other scars," Edd repeated, "how did you get them?" I gulped.
'Bugger, I forgot about those.'
"That's none of your business."
"Oh come on Edwina," he shot me a sly smirk "I can keep a secret." I sighed in what I hoped was a defeated manner.
"I fell on broken glass when I was little."
'Well it's not a complete lie.'
There was silence for a moment, and I was beginning to think my performance had been so flawless I had moved him to speechlessness.
"You're lying." He said eventually, startling me from my inner award ceremony.
"I – what? No, I'm not."
"Yes you are, these scars are too long to be the result of just a fall. These seem more like the result of dragging."
"Maybe I fell on a slippery surface and slid, ever think of that, smart ass?"
"Yes, I did. But," he grabbed my hands and flipped them over before I could react "if you fell, your hands would be scarred as well, yet they are fine; if you don't count the knuckles."
Okay that's just not fair. Who are you, Sherlock-flipping-Holmes?'
"So I shall ask again: how did you get these scars?" I glared at him stubbornly.
"I'll say it again: that's none of your business."
"The moment you let me into your house and accepted my help enough to actually take your pants off, it became my business."
"Alright, fine you nosey ponce! There was a girl who didn't particularly like me, and yes, she dragged me through broken glass one time; she was messed up and went to a mental hospital a few months later. Are you done now? I'd like to watch a movie." I spoke as quickly as possible and the following silence was uncomfortable, to say the least. Edd was almost finished with the bandaging and he cast his eyes down to focus on it.
"So you were bullied as a child." It wasn't a question.
"No. Yes. Bollocks, I don't know; you think whatever you want to think." He had finished wrapping my leg. He looked up, and call me crazy, but I swore I could detect a hint of triumph in his otherwise blank expression.
"I shall do just that. Enjoy your movie, Edwina." With one final shark grin he sauntered out of my kitchen. I held my breath until I heard the front door open and close, at which I exhaled noisily through my mouth.
Easing off the stool I hobbled around the kitchen, collecting the necessary junk food, including reheated pizza and garlic bread.
"I need a laugh… Bridget Jones, here I come."