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Counting Stars

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I’m only a man with a candle to guide me,

I’m taking a stand to escape what’s inside me.

A monster, a monster,

I’ve turned into a monster,

A monster, a monster,

And it keeps getting stronger.

August 30, 2013

Jean Kirschtein is currently watching his boyfriend of seven months slam his head against the table over and over again. Honestly, he’s tried to stop him, but Eren Jaeger is convinced that he can slam this cold out of himself, since medicine doesn’t seem to be working.

“Really, Eren, you’re going to give yourself a concussion. Calm down.”

“I—don’t—care,” he says. He then stops, resting his chin against the table, eyes fixated on Jean’s. “I’m already miserable. I don’t think a concussion could make this any worse.”

“You literally have a cold. It should be gone in a few days. Besides, what about basketball?”

Eren groans. “What about basketball?”

“Looks like you already gave yourself a concussion.”

“It’s not even that. I’m just…” He sighs, his eyes drifting away from Jean’s. “I’m done with this whole high school thing, I guess?” He begins to tap his fingers against the table.

“Aren’t we all?”

“Well, that and being an adult. No. No thank you. Or at least, I’ll have to be more of an adult than the past few years. Which actually isn’t much I guess, but. You know.”

“Yeah, I know.” Jean’s been there the entire time it was happening, though at first only Armin really knew what was happening. Eren’s mom died of cancer when he was ten, leaving his dad to take care of him and Mikasa. About two years ago, their dad stopped coming home. Given, he still tries, since he pays all of the bills and writes letters occasionally. (He recently offered to pay for both Eren and Mikasa’s college tuition next year. Eren honestly wonders where on earth his dad would even get enough money to make such an offer, unless he’s expecting them to go to community college.)

Eren’s about to reply, but the front door opens and Mikasa waltzes into the room, hauling her dance bag and four plastic grocery bags with THANK YOU written in bold red letters. She slams the door shut with her foot and walks past them to the counter, slipping her dance bag to the floor and the grocery bags onto the counter. She doesn’t even look up as she speaks and begins to unpack the bags, cans clanking as they hit the counter. “Eren, I’m making you chicken noodle soup tonight. You need to get over that cold before school starts.”

“Wow, okay mom.” Eren sits up straighter, not wanting to get yelled at for terrible posture and how it’ll ruin his back. (Mikasa is such a nag sometimes, but he’d be a mess without her.)

“You can stay for dinner too, Jean,” Mikasa’s pushing cans and boxes into the cupboards. (He nearly offers to help; he knows where everything goes with how much time he spends at their house.)

“I would, but I’d rather not get infected with the sickness.”

Eren snorts, “The make out session earlier says otherwise.”

“Yeah, yeah,” Jean stands up and stretches his arms. “I actually have to be home for dinner tonight. Or else my mom will personally chop my head off and bury me in the backyard. Or cook me into dinner so I’m there.”

“Sounds appetizing,” Mikasa says from the pantry.

Jean leans over the table and gives Eren a quick kiss. “I’ll see you tomorrow.”

“Yeah. Bye.”

September 3, 2013

The alarm sounding at five AM causes the panic to start rising the moment he wakes up. He slams it off, half tempted to throw it across the room. Really, the clock is lucky. If he didn’t have to get up at dick o’ clock in the morning, he would easily have the energy to throw the cursed thing across the room.

After a few moments of getting his breathing under control, he gets up. He blindly crosses his room and turns on the light—why does it have to be so bright?—and shuffles over to his dresser. He digs through to find something somewhat decent. He should try to look good for the first day, at least.

Not that he has anyone he really needs to impress.

He stumbles down the hall and to the bathroom for a quick shower. He easily slips back into the old morning routine—shower, get dressed, shave, brush teeth (Mikasa usually walks in at this time to brush her own teeth and do her make up), and put his contacts in. On some days he’s too lazy and throws his glasses on. Then, he eats whatever Mikasa sets in front of him. Which can be a full on eggs with bacon and toast breakfast to coffee with no cream or sugar.

In the midst of his morning routine, when he’s strategically placing the contact in his eye and trying not to jump or blink, Mikasa asks him how he’s feeling.

“My nose is kinda stuffy, but other than that my cold’s pretty much gone.”

“Good.”

He grunts in reply.

-

The school always has a certain way of annoying him on the first day. In mid-August, they send out everyone’s schedules. But arriving on the first day of the new school year, you have to stand in line for fifteen minutes to get an all new and ‘altered’ schedule, when really none of your classes actually changed. It drives Eren out of his mind, but if you don’t pick up the schedule by lunch, the AP office will literally track you down and drag you to the office for the stupid piece of paper.

After fifteen minutes of waiting, he gets to the front of the line.

“Last name?”

“Jaeger. It’ll be under J, not Y.”

The woman flips through a stack of papers thicker than any book he’s seen before beginning to pull out a paper and ask, “Eren?”

“Yeah.”

“Here you go.”

“Thanks.” He looks down.

What do you know? No changes.

As expected.

He heads to his locker. This is different, but he’s okay with it. The seniors get new lockers while the freshman take their old ones. Memorizing a new combination is a pain, though. He pulls his notebooks and folders from his backpack and stuffs them into the locker.

“You really have the best organization skills.”

Jean’s only a few lockers down from him, grinning.

“You can’t even see into my locker.”

“I know you, though.”

“You sound like Mikasa. Besides, it’s going to end up like this anyway. It always does.”

“What do you have first hour?”

“Anatomy with Hanji.”

He couldn’t lie, he was pumped for anatomy. Hanji—technically Miss Zoe—was one of his favorite teachers. She somehow manages to teach nearly every science class the school offers besides chemistry. Apparently she used to, but she actually had kids blow stuff up for fun, so Mr. Smith banned her from teaching the class. Eren ended up having Mr. Zacharius for chemistry. If you could get past the weird smelling obsession the man seemed to have, he was actually a pretty good teacher.

“Ugh, lucky you. I have AP lit with Levi.”

“So does Mikasa. I think Armin might, too.”

Eren had Levi as a teacher twice. Once for freshman English, and again in sophomore year for French. He was sort of terrifying, but Eren likes the way he teaches.

“Marco and Mina do, too. If it wasn’t Levi teaching it, I think it’d be one of my favorite classes.” The first bell rings and Jean sighs. “I’m off to the other side of the school.” He pecks Eren on the lips and begins his way to the English and foreign language center.

“Have fun.”

“Yeah, yeah.” He waves off the comment.

Eren watches his boyfriend go, yawns, and turns back to his locker. He mumbles anatomy under his breath as he digs the folder and notebook from the pile he’s created. He’s memorized his schedule by now, but he takes a final glimpse at it before heading to class.

1st – Anatomy – Zoe, Hanji – Rm. 301

2nd – Pre-Calculus A – Jinn, Erd – Rm. 218

Lunch

3rd – English 12A – Schultz, Gunther – Rm. 112

4th – Advanced Sketching – Ness, Dita – Rm. 514

5th – AP Euro History – Ral, Petra – Rm. 408

So begins senior year.