A/N: I'm horrible! More horrible than horrible! The most horrible of all! I am so, so SO sorry to everyone who reviewed and still likes this incredibly slowly updated fic of mine. The last chapter, which I totally don't like, still got the most reviews, and I thank everybody who read and reviewed it! I thought this would get the fewest hits, since few people look up this couple.

But biggest thanks to you recent reviewers, because it was thanks to those guys that I got back into writing this! I completely forgot how much fun I have writing this story.

So I'm gonna try and make this chapter worthwhile, to those of you that are still putting up with me, even though it is kinda sorta a filler chapter! Thanks for the awesome support! This is my most successful chapter fic, so let's finish this, making it my first complete fic too, okay?

Wow, I can blab! Okay, read, whoever is still into this! ^_^


Winter


I slammed the door shut and leaned on it, anger giving me a migraine. Stupid family, stupid dinner, stupid Christmas….no, stupid step-mom.

I stepped outside into the night, wrapping my arms around myself. In my haste to get out I didn't grab my coat or hat, and to go in now would be embarrassing. I sighed, looking at the lit houses, cursing about everything in sight. I looked over at the dead end of our cluster of houses, only knowing where Eddy, Nazz and Kevin lived. Oh, and Ed, after that little escapade…was it only yesterday?

I giggled remembering the events. Eddy colliding into Sarah (I was still sure there was something going on between them behind the scenes) then the former chasing after Double D. Nazz and I had practically died of laughter. I smiled at the thought. The blond really was fun to hang around with.

My eyes subconsciously drifted onto the door in front of me. Edd's house. I let out a breath, which immediately fogged as it hit the cold of the air, and took a step forward. A few steps from his porch, I stopped. I just couldn't disturb him, not on Christmas. True, he was alone, but I didn't want to dump my problems on him. I looked longingly up at one of the windows where the light shone through the drawn curtains. I sighed, my breath misting up again. He was too good for that.

Suddenly, I noticed a figure walking across the street. Straining my eyes a little, I realized it was Sarah (I learned her name yesterday). Of all the people. I sighed. It was now or never. Ed's little sister was easiest to talk to alone. Plus, I would die of some snow-related sickness if I stood still any longer.

I jogged towards her, my feet crunching noisily. She still didn't seem to notice me though. So I called out. "Sarah!"

'She must be buried in some deep thought.' I thought to myself, as the girl still didn't turn to look at me. I neared her, now a few yards away. "Sarah!" I yelled. This time she turned, one hand on the doorknob, the other stuffed into her pocket.

We stood looking at each other a while; me panting – looking like a complete moron – her looking at me with an unreadable expression – and looking brain-dead, ahem. Then she turned, opened the door and walked inside, slamming it shut behind her, all without saying a word.

I blinked. Well that went well.

I sighed, once again still, as the slight perspiration that had appeared cooled quickly in the icy atmosphere. I sighed, looking at all the lit windows. Inside each house, a family was enjoying a meal, laughing and talking, just enjoying others' presence. I felt tears well in my eyes. Last Christmas had been like that for me too.

'NO! Don't think about that! It's history, get over it!' I yelled at myself, wiping tears away angrily. I once again looked aimlessly around, my eyes landing on the distant building that was my house. So many things had happened, and because of them, family bonds had grown thin and weak, as much as we tried to hide them. Really, sometimes I know we feel like beating the living crap out of each other. Which we do. And because of what happened after that Christmas, we'd had to live in a trailer for an extra year! A whole year!

My eyes once again drifted to the house directly opposite mine. I let out a soft breath. He was probably also having a lousy Christmas. Double D I mean. And he was the least one out of all of us that deserved it. For all the times he put on a façade acting like nothing happened, he must be surrounded by turmoil inside. I wanted to cheer him up so bad, but I wasn't sure if my presence would be considered a present or a burden. I still didn't know him, not at all. The closer I thought I got, the farther I drifted away from him.

Suddenly I detected eyes on my back, and sure enough, the sound of footsteps followed. I turned around to face Eddy. Not the most ideal of people to come out, but it was company. "Hi!" I chirped. What gave me the happiness to express that, I have no idea.

"Hey," he replied, shooting me a confused look that clearly contained more than one question.

"So, you are….um…cool to hang out with now, right?" Question no. 1. "Like you won't try to pull a fast one or-"

"Nope!" I replied. "I've changed alright? I want to be considered a friend. Is that okay?"

He smiled. "Sure." I grinned back. "Well, what are you doing out here?" Question no. 2.

"Um…long story…" I replied distantly, not wanting to talk about that, at all. He seemed to sense that, which I found eternally strange, since I had never known Eddy to sense what was around him. But then again I really knew nothing about him to begin with, so…

"Oh, ok." He replied, looking away, clearly not knowing what else to say. That was my bad. Eddy wasn't usually left uncomfortable around others – stupid socialite – and I had immediately set the record. "Well, you look cold, where's your jacket? Or scarf? Or hat?" Question no. 3. Or wait, did that count as more than one question? …I'm counting it as one. Can't be bothered.

"Well, long story short, I left the house, right? So I didn't have time to go back in and get anything." He opened his mouth to say something, obviously about my 'long story' but closed it again. Honestly, when had he gotten good at keeping his mouth shut? Lee would be sad; she loved that non-stopping mouth of his.

"Oh, well, I guess you could ask Nazz to give you a sweater when she comes out or something." He suggested. Again a shocker. Eddy was concerned for others? Was he on drugs?

"How do you know Nazz is going to come out?" Question no. 4. Oh, wait, I asked that one.

Eddy smirked. "Oh right, you don't know." He said, and I quirked an eyebrow. Though it was rather stiff, because of the cold I was feeling. Eddy sighed. "Here take my jacket."

Okay, this was the last straw. "Are you feeling alright, Eddy?" I asked.

"Huh?" was his ever so explanatory response. He looked at me for a while, then his eyes widened in realization. "Oh, no, it's not like that! Haha, no! No way! It's just, it's Christmas, right? And you're supposed to make people feel comfortable on Christmas and whatever, right? Or at least that's what my mom tells me…. So anyway, just take the jacket until Nazz arrives." I opened my mouth to protest, but he beat me to it. "And don't worry 'bout me, I've got like three more layers under here, so I won't be feeling the cold anytime soon."

'Yeah, go figure' I thought. 'Why would he go out of his way if it caused harm to him?' But I took the jacket gratefully and wrapped it around myself, enjoying the warmth that was still there.

"Thanks." I said.

"Don't mention it." He said. "Seriously, don't." I smiled and nodded, looking back at him in time to see him shoot a glance at a house to our left. I glanced the way he was looking. Was he doing all this to impress somebody? But the windows were left deserted from figures. I shrugged. But he still had some explaining to do.

"So what was that 'bout how you knew Nazz was coming out now without being a stalker?" I asked and he looked at me as if suddenly realizing I was there for the first time. He smirked.

"It's not just Nazz who's gonna be coming out now." He said. "All the kids are."

"At 10:30 pm in winter?" I asked, unconvinced.

"Yep." He replied. "You see, almost no one's parents live here for long terms, right? They usually come back during school holidays, like summer vacation and stuff. So they've been travelling all of yesterday to get here, right?" 'He says right too much.' I thought, but nodded. Yeah, and most of the parents were too busy and overworked to book a flight or something sooner. That made sense, but I still didn't know what he was talking about. He continued.

"So they all go to sleep after Christmas dinner. Early." It was suddenly starting to click, but I nodded for him to continue. "So that's where we kids sneak out and hang around a little. Because the whole day we've been too cooped up with our parents to actually go out."

'Not me. … or Double D.' I thought, remembering earlier today when he'd told me about his parents being over worked. Did other kids even know about that? Probably not, since Eddy was one of his best friends and he didn't seem like he knew. So he was taking this as a silent burden on himself. What was he thinking?

"So we all come out and play something. Tonight it's gonna be basketball." I blinked. Say what? Was he serious? Near to midnight, when it was coldest, and they came out to have some sporting action? That was eternally weird. Not to mention stupid. Oh well, I'm gonna have to get used to it. Everyone here's an idiot. Except of course…

"Cool." I replied, not knowing what else to say.

"And I suppose you can join in too, since you're part of us now and-"

"She can join what?"

My eyes widened. I knew that voice anywhere. I'd been hearing it over and over in my head a hundred, no a thousand times. Of course, I knew almost everything else about him in just the same familiarity. No that wasn't right. There's still plenty I don't know about him. But that didn't stop my smile as I turned to him.

"Double D!" I said, the words leaving my mouth before I actually saw him. He was still looking at Eddy, an unreadable expression on his face. It almost looked strained. His eyes were a wild mixture of amusement, impatience and confusion. It wasn't a glare, but strange as it was, it gave me a different sort of chills and I was glad he wasn't looking at me. And he was smirking. Smirking! Ok, maybe not a smirk but a strained smile, but it was unnervingly close to a sneer as well.

"Sockhead!" Eddy exclaimed, clearly not noticing the look Edd was sending him. So much for perceptive Eddy. "Where's –" but before he could finish, he was roughly tackled to the ground by a lump that loudly exclaimed;

"Eddy!"

"Ed!"

I giggled.

"Get off me you stupid lump!" Eddy continued. "I think you broke my arm! How the hell am I supposed to play now?!"

"I can play for you Eddy! I can act like…"

But who exactly Ed could have acted like, I never heard, because at that moment I felt a shifting to my left and turned, eyes raised. Double D had his old expression back on, the one with the soft smile and intelligent eyes. It had seemed like forever since I last saw him, what with all the commotion back home.

"So, I'm guessing you were just invited to join in their little game, right?" Double D asked. It took me a moment to snap out of my trance and realize that he was talking to me.

"Oh, y-yeah, that's right!" I said, trying to gather my wits. Well, the few I had. Then I realize that he had said 'their' instead of 'our'. "Wait, does that mean you're not going to play?"

"Yeah," suddenly I didn't feel like playing either. "But Eddy and Ed always pull me along. Probably something to do with the fact that if the other kids turn against them, they have someone capable of talking their way out."

I smirked. "So you're the kind of guy who flaunts their own genius, eh?"

He folded his arms. "I guess you could put it like that, because….what?" his eyes widened, and it was pretty obvious he had only realized what I'd said now. "No! I didn't mean that in a bragging way! I mean, it's just, in front of those two, who are complete morons, I just – no wait! I didn't mean morons, I meant…um…work-deprived students! Ya! In front of them…" he continued on his rant of correcting himself, me just staring at him, enjoying the way his lips moved, or the way his eyes flickered here and there in haste. I giggled, then placed a hand on his half-raised arm.

"It's okay, Double D, I was just teasing you." I stated, and he immediately clamped his mouth shut, looking at me with an embarrassed smile. I blushed lightly, and silently thanked the cold. It was officially in my good books. I can blame the flushing on it.

"So where's your sister, Ed?" the conversation between the other two could now be clearly heard over our silence.

"Sister?"

"Yeah, Sarah, you idiot!"

"Sarah's getting ready, Eddy! Haha, that rhymed."

"Getting ready? All she's gotta do is throw on a jacket!" Eddy snapped unnecessarily and started marching towards the two siblings' house. Not that I really noticed.

Double D's smile then turned contemplating. "Marie, why are you out tonight? Aren't you supposed to be having that dinner?"

I blinked. He remembered? "Oh, yeah, well I finished early and decided to get some fresh air, and then I spotted Eddy, so came here." I lied. He furrowed his eyebrows.

"But why did you come out without a jacket and such?" there was a silence. "Did something happen?" I sighed. He was always like this. Putting two and two together and coming up with all the right answers. The stupid idiot really was a genius.

"You could say that." I mumbled, diverting my eyes onto the snow-ridden road. "But I don't really want to-"

"Hey, Double D! Out already?" a cheerful voice interrupted us. I couldn't think whether I was glad that I didn't have to continue the subject or angry that our moment had been ruined. "Marie, is that you?"

I turned around to face the peppy blond. "Hey Nazz." She waved. "You play too, huh?"

"Yep! Baseball and basketball are my thing!" she replied happily. "You're also coming to play with us?"

"Well, Eddy did invite me…" I drifted off nervously, not knowing if I would be welcome yet. It had only been two days. Maybe the other kids would mind me playing with … Suddenly, my eyes widened as I felt Double D's hands on my shoulders around Eddy's jackets collar. What was he doing?! I couldn't think, not with his hands on me like that! Curse him! Forget genius, he's back to being an idiot! An idiot that's about to murder me with hyperventilation. What a way to die.

"That's awesome!" Nazz chattered, unaware of my sudden stiffness. "Kevin called me a few minutes ago, he's gonna get the ball, and then we'll go out to the court. But I wonder where…"

And suddenly his hands were off me, and I felt a sudden, chilling cold. Once again, I didn't know if I was sad that his hands were no longer … ahem… touching me, or happy that I could think properly again. Curse him!

"Oh, there they are!" Nazz exclaimed, looking off somewhere behind my shoulder. I turned around. Eddy was walking back with a hyper-active Ed (what else was new?) and a disgruntled looking Sarah who was looking slightly flushed. I raised my eyebrows, wrapping my arms around myself, suddenly feeling cold again. What had happened? I was so going to find out. But that meant – I sighed in frustration – becoming friends with that little hellion. Man, I'd buried myself into one deep pit.

"Hey, Nazz, do you think Marie could borrow one of your coats?" I heard Double D ask behind me. Before I could absorb what he'd just said, Nazz, grabbed my hand.

"Of course! I am so sorry! Really! I can't believe I didn't notice! You must be freezing! Why don't you have a coat on? No, forget that, quick, let me give you something before you solidify!" Nazz blabbed, pulling me towards her house. I dazedly thought of what had just happened. Hadn't Eddy given his jacket to me? My eyes widened. Edd! He must have taken it off! That's why – I blushed – that's why I felt him on me. But why did he take the jacket off?

"Nazz!" a yell broke my thoughts. "Hey! Where are you going?!"

We both turned around to see Kevin, holding a basketball, followed by that farmer kid…um… can't remember his name. I'll call him what's-his-face for now. "Hiya Kevin! I'm just gonna give Marie a coat and then we'll meet up with you at the court!"

"'Kay. Just hurry up or you'll miss the teams." He yelled.

"You got it!"

"Stop with the yelling, you're making me deaf!" I cried, and Nazz giggled, dragging me to her house. I looked back at the small group that had gathered. Double D looked oddly satisfied – he's a complete idiot – Kevin was showing off with a ball along with what's-his-face. And Eddy and Sarah were oddly quiet. There had to be something going on there. Maybe I could ask Nazz.

X-X-X-X-X-X-X-X-X-X-X

"Are you mocking me, she-devil of the trailer park?"

"No! All I said was that I don't like putting pickles between my toes and sprinkling them with the hair from …beneath… a lobster's….. sorry, what was it again?"

"The hair from the rumpus of a freshly matured lobster within the depths of the sand of northern Atlantis. Quite rare indeed."

"Um, yeah, that. Just because I don't do that does not mean I'm mocking you."

"But there is no doubt, since you're hair is as blue as Rolf has seen. You must take part in the ritual of coloring, because such a color is not attainable elsewhere."

"It's natural!"

I was currently having a rather troubling conversation with what's-his-face (whom I learned was named Rolf) while we waited as the captains were decided. During this time what's-his-face had sidled up to me and started blabbing nonsense about his cultural rituals.

"But Rolf follows the same ritual, and his hair is like yours."

My eyes snapped wide open. OH no. He did not just compare my hair (which I try to take great care of, by the way) with his! His was lank, and dull, clearly the head of a person from a farm. And he just compared me with him! …I think I'm going to faint. For moments on end I just opened and closed my mouth like a goldfish. But a goldfish does not really do that… it always was a bit racist that only goldfish were used in this sort of context…..okay, my mouth opened and closed like a blabbering May.

"Um, Rolf, maybe," Nazz started, clearly seeing my discomfort. "Maybe you should just-"

"Nazz, you're on my side!" Kevin called, and the blond immediately raced over towards him. I sighed. The captains had obviously been chosen; Kevin and Eddy. Big wow. Not. So now I was left on the waiting list. No doubt I would be last. At least Double D was standing nearby.

"Alright, I'm going to head over to the stands until you're done." The boy of my thoughts piped up, walking away as well. Idiot! Now I was stuck with a moron (Ed), what's-his-face with the most lethal mental torturing abilities (Rolf), a girl who hadn't said a word in front of me yet (Sarah…she's a moron too. It obviously runs in the family) and…wait, that was it. Jimmy said it was too late for him, (goody-two-shoes) and that other bald kid (whom I shall call Baldy, since I don't know his name) had caught a cold.

"Ed! Get over here!" Now we were minus one moron.

"Rolf!" Minus the torturer.

Oh great, now it was me and Ms Moron extraordinaire. I had a feeling I would be chosen last. "Um…you any good at B-ball?" Eddy asked, question clearly directed at me. I shrugged.

"I played sometimes with my family. Nothing fancy. I don't know what you're standards are."

"His are pretty much below zero." Kevin put in. Eddy shot him a vicious glare.

"Hey, Double D, this means you've gotto play too! We're an odd number."

"You can manage with an extra member." He replied nonchalantly. "I mean, there are only two girls left."

My eye twitched. That idiot said what?!

"What was that supposed to mean?" My voice chorused along with someone else's. I turned to face Ms Moron…okay, I'll call her Sarah from now one. So I faced Sarah, my eyes amused, her eyes glaring fire-balls. I blinked as her glare intensified. Sheesh that was some hot fire. That was the first time I'd heard her talk in ages. I'd thought she'd gone mute.

"Hmph!" she quipped and turned to the mini-groups. "Choose already!"

Man, she could yell.

"Okay, come on, Marie, you're with us!" Nazz piped up, not noting the fact that Kevin was captain. Although he obviously wouldn't argue with her. Pathetic lovesick idiot. I swear, everyone nowadays was an idiot. Sarah shot the blond a look between despair and hatred. A look that I didn't really understand. But I started toward the threesome anyway, knowing that I was on a stronger side. No offense to the Eds. Or Sarah. I rushed towards them.

And slipped on the ice-coated cement. The cold was in my bad books again.

A few sniggers erupted and I tried forcing out a smile. Probably didn't look that great. I looked up as a shadow fell across me. Sarah. She smirked.

"Wow, you're really good at running! I bet your team's ecstatic about choosing you." she actually had the spine to mock me? No one mocked me and got away with it! I felt my bully side surface as I stood up, eyes glinting unmercifully. Stupid twit. Didn't she realize I was trying to be friendly towards her?

"Oh, and you're the best player in the world!" I sneered. She looked indifferently back.

"I'm better than you, hands down." She replied.

"I highly doubt that, little girl."

"Then you should prove it, bluey."

"What did you just call me, you dim-wit?"

"I'm not repeating myself, Bluey." This time, she smiled.

"Hey, you guys, cut it out." Eddy called out unexpectedly. Seriously, wasn't it Nazz's job to stop fights?

"Shut up Eddy. This here's between Bluey and I, right?"

"I swear, if you say that one more-" I started, but Sarah across.

"You'll do what, BLUEY?"

"Sarah, shut your yapping and come over here!" he yelled.

"No! I never wanted to be in that team, so I'll come over when I'm good and ready!" she yelled, whirling around to face him.

"You don't have a choice, brat! We never wanted you on our team either!" he snapped. There was a silence where Sarah gaped at Eddy in disbelief. Well, what was she expecting? A love confession of how he had waited his whole life for her, and always wanted her by his side? Yeah right. She should get a life.

"Oh look, the twerp actually wanted to be chosen by Eddy!" I voiced before I could stop myself. "Who'd have thought? Sarah's crushing on him! Well, redhead, what do you think he should do now? Propose, with a ring and –"

But before I'd finished my sentence, Sarah's fist had come flying to direct contact with my eye. I was thrown backwards, landing on the cold floor, again. Though the contact was nothing compared to my throbbing eye. Damn, that little brat could punch. Through one watering eye, I looked up at the redhead, who currently was panting heavily, her fist still bunched. And for some reason, her eyes were watering too.

"Sarah, what the hell?!"

"Oh my gosh, Sarah!"

"Wow kid, you've got a mean upper hook."

"I know. Want me to show you?... I thought so."

"Rolf congratulates you, sister of the single-browed Ed-boy. Perhaps now she will realize that one should not lie about what hair-purifying methods one uses. It will only result in rotten turnips."

"And black-eyes, dude."

"No Kevin, eye color does not change because of that."

"Cool! I can change my eye color?! I wanna have red eyes, with flames, and a skull and-"

A ruckus had erupted among the kids, clogging my ears, giving me a headache. What a night. That's all I can say. And among all this, I didn't really feel the need to pummel the little she-punk like I would have many eons ago. I must have really changed. At least that was comforting. I sighed, one cold hand still clamped onto my throbbing eye. But I was still devilishly annoyed at the little girl. She'd get it. I tried staggering to my feet.

Suddenly, two gentle hands steadied my shoulders, helping me to my feet. I opened my eyes, one of them covered in unshed tears of pain, and the other's view blocked by my palm. But I could still make out who it was that helped me.

"Marie?" Double D. Honestly, why was it always him? "Are you okay? Show me the damage."

If it was anyone else, I would probably have felt self-conscious. But because it was him I lowered my hand. Even without it blocking my sight, I could barely open it more than a crack. I saw him visibly wince. I forcefully smiled.

"Is it bad?" I asked. He nodded. That surprised me. I thought he would say something like 'not really' or 'it's not too bad'. A lie of some sorts at least. Suddenly I saw a flash of blond as Nazz appeared in view. She clasped a hand to her mouth.

"Oh my gosh, Marie." She repeated. "That looks like it hurt." She commented sympathetically. Was everyone around here so honest?

"It's not too bad…"Kevin drifted uncertainly. So he was the normal one I suppose.

"Where's Sarah?" I asked. There was a moment of uncertainty. "I'm just asking, guys."

"She went home. Ed and Eddy went to comfort her, so-" Double D started.

"Are you speaking of weight of a thousand bricks Ed-boy?" Rolf quipped, literally appearing out of nowhere. The idiot. "He is right here." And as if to prove a point, he dumped Ed onto the ground in front of us.

"haha! I'm a brick!"

We ignored them.

"You should really get some ice on that." Kevin continued.

"I'll walk you." Double D stated.

"It's alright, I can still walk-"

"Come on." He said. Man, since when did he get so stubborn?

I turned to rest of the group. "I'm so sorry you guys. I ruined your game. Maybe if I hadn't come, then Sarah-"

"Don't be silly, it's not your fault." Nazz stated, and there was a mutual shuffle. Because it obviously was my fault. "Well, what I mean is, Sarah over-reacted. I mean, I've never seen her act that way…" the blond drifted off in thought. Kevin leaned forward.

"Actually, that's just how Sarah is." He whispered to me, and I smiled. At least he was still talking to me, even after what I said. It really was sorta my fault. Sorta.

"Thanks guys, and sorry again." I said, turning to walk over to Double D, who was waiting for me.

"Don't worry about us, you just rest and heal up, 'kay?" Nazz replied, waving cheerfully. I waved, stopping as Edd held my hand and dragged me off the field. And honestly, because of that, I suddenly felt that it wasn't so bad, what had just happened.


A/N: Would you believe this was supposed to go up on Christmas!? I KNOW, it's been forever! ** But I'm gonna update more, I swear! And it was a pretty big chapter, so I'm expecting reviews for this, ya?

Oh yeah, and the drama's about to start too, oshkay? Yay! Lolz! And school's started again! *dies*

Footnote: reviews will be used to reincarnate me. ^_^