Whizzer Brown’s first impression of Marvin when he sits down next him in their Introduction to Philosophy class is pretty mild, all things considering. The guy’s decently attractive—clean-shaven, wide-eyed, sharp-featured—but his abysmal fashion sense negates any inkling of interest that might have settled in Whizzer’s gut. The guy doesn’t even offer him a spare glance in greeting as he plops down in the seat, pulling out his laptop and textbook quickly and setting each on the tiny desk in front of him. And that’s…well, insulting, to say the least; Whizzer worked hard on his appearance this morning. It’s rude to not at least acknowledge his efforts.
“Hi,” Whizzer says, finally drawing the other man’s attention, “Name’s Whizzer Brown.” At the abrupt greeting, the man reflexively pulls his body within himself, the anxiety of the first day of college showing plainly on his handsome face. Whizzer’s predatory smile widens.
The guy looks at him suspiciously, as if expecting some sort of trap, “Marvin.” And he says it quick and carefully, as if it’s some sort of secret. Taking back his prior dismissal, Whizzer feels a slight stir of interest.
“So you got stuck in this boring class too, huh?” He prompts, raising an eyebrow.
“Actually, I signed up for it.” Marvin corrects him, jiggling his pencil anxiously in his hand, “Sounded really interesting. It gets your mind working, you know?”
Whizzer gives him the obvious once over, challenging coolly, “Ah, so you’re one of those faux-Intellectual types.”
Rather than cower and sputter like he expects of him, Marvin rises to the bait, his jaw locking and gaze narrowing, “What’s that supposed to mean?”
He shrugs, a smirk curling at the edges of his mouth, “You know, the kind that writes shitty screenplays at Starbucks and only uploads ‘artsy’ black-and-white pictures of dumb shit on his Myspace.”
At the barb, Marvin straightens his shoulders (the human equivalence of puffing out peacock feathers, Whizzer remarks snidely to himself), “I guess you’re one of those Too Cool Poseur types.”
Whizzer tries to smother his grin, “What’s that supposed to mean?”
Marvin smirks at him, mimicking his earlier tone, “You know, the kind that watched too many ‘80s movies as a kid and so now actively acts like an asshole in a failing attempt to show off how cool and mysterious he is.” And Marvin seems confused when Whizzer only grins and shrugs in response, as if he were expecting to get a rise out of him. He doesn’t realize Whizzer likes the cute ones that bite back.
“You know,” He admits, leaning back in his chair, “Maybe this class won’t suck ass after all.”
Before Marvin can think of some “witty” comeback, the professor finally gets off of his fat ass and calls the class to attention. His untrimmed, salt-and-pepper beard reaches to his barely contained chest hair, and his long, flat ponytail doesn’t quite negate his already receding hairline.
“This is a class that relies solely on our relationship as a class,” Ponytail explains, but Whizzer is too focused on the Cheetos-dust staining his lips to pay that much attention to the words said, “You will be learning more from each other than you will ever learn from the professor. I am simply a mediator rather than a ‘teacher.’” Beside Whizzer, Marvin has already started to take notes, his role as brownnoser becoming quite apparent in that moment. God, Whizzer would’ve hated him in high school; however, he also probably would’ve tried to blow him behind the bleachers as well, so…
“This class is based around questions,” Ponytail continues, “Questions to the Form, questions to the Man—questions that are supposed to never truly be answered in the universal sense. For example,” He scans the room of bored-looking college students before settling on Marvin and Whizzer, “You two gentlemen, please stand up.” Reluctantly, both men rise to their feet, but while Marvin looks almost nervous, Whizzer is just bored.
“I am going to give you a question,” Ponytail explains, his smile exposing gnarly-looking teeth, “Each of you will have one minute to state your position and then one minute to debate your conflicting stances with each other. Think of this as a preview for the rest of the semester. Now, you Sir,” He points to Whizzer, who has actually become a little interested at this point, “What is the difference between being alive and living?”
“Easy,” Whizzer dismisses, answering without a second thought, “”Being alive is having a heartbeat. Living is drinking a shot of whiskey every morning before class and having dirty, anonymous sex in a public bathroom.” A wave of snickers shudders through the class, but Whizzer only pays attention to the derisive snort from Marvin.
Whizzer cocks an eyebrow at him, “Got something to add?”
“Oh, are you done already?” Marvin asks, incredulous, “That was your big pitch? Living just means sex and beer to you?”
“No, sorry, you’re right,” Whizzer shrugs, snidely adding, “Can’t forget about money.”
“You know, I would scold you for treating this as a joke,” Marvin says, prevalent distaste and pity in his gaze, “But the sad part is that I honest to God think you’re serious.”
Whizzer feels the smirk drop from his face. Earlier, he had dismissed Marvin as a snide but mostly harmless mouse of a man—someone pretty and somewhat interesting enough to talk to and who could potentially save his boredom from this mind-numbing course. But that’s not true at all, he realizes.
Marvin, it turns out, is just a huge fucking asshole.
“Being alive is having a heartbeat, yes,” Aforementioned Huge Fucking Asshole concedes, “But living doesn’t simply mean excitement or danger or whatever. It means having a life—in all its sometimes exciting but mostly boring glory. It means carpooling to work and cleaning out your car and flirting with pretty girls. You don’t need to try to kill yourself to prove that you’re living.”
“So you’re telling me that living for you means doing your taxes and having boring, monotonous marital sex every other month?” Whizzer challenges, crossing his arms over his chest, “This isn’t the 1950s, for fuck’s sake. Our culture has evolved from the oppressive societal norm of restraint. We are in the Now Generation where living means taking it one day at a time. Living means wanting to be alive. And I can tell you, Marvin, hearing you talk makes me want to stop my heartbeat.”
“Okay, that’s enough,” Ponytail tries to interrupt, vainly trying to soothe the tension brewing in the air, “Thank you for the demonstration—“
“If you keep ‘living’ like that, you’ll be dead by the time you’re twenty-five.” Marvin declares tersely, his hands flexing at his sides.
Whizzer shrugs, “Better to die young than wish for death as a feeble old sack of bones.”
Ponytail raises his voice, “Okay, sit down—”
Marvin scoffs, condescension dripping from his high and mighty tone, “You are perhaps the most ignorant person I’ve ever met.”
“You know, that would hurt a lot more if anybody actually gave a fuck about what you think.” Whizzer argues, glancing down at Marvin’s balled fists and smirking, “What, you gonna hit me? Funny; you seem more of a lousy lover than a fighter.”
“Do you ever shut up?”
Whizzer takes a step forward, presenting the left side of his face daringly, “How about you make me—”
“Enough!” Ponytail shouts, his face reddening, “You two, out of my classroom. You’re done for the day.”
Whizzer and Marvin turn to stare at him, “But—“
Ponytail points to the exit, reaffirming, “Out!”
Whizzer feels the heat of everyone’s gazes and whispers on his back as he hurriedly collects his things and storms out of the classroom, his cheeks flushing despite his strongest attempts to assert that it doesn’t bother him. Fuck, this is going to be just like high school all over again.
“Nice going, Dick,” Whizzer gripes as soon as Marvin closes the door behind him, “You just had to—“
“Hey, that was not my fault,” Marvin denies, “You were the one who kept egging it on!”
Whizzer stares at him in amazement, “Are you seriously not taking any responsibility?”
“I was following directions and making an argument,” Marvin says gruffly, pointing an accusing finger at him, “You were the one who wanted me to punch you. I mean, Jesus Christ, what kind of psychopath are you?”
“I’d rather be a psychopath than the literal human embodiment of a migraine.” Whizzer hisses, feeling a sick sense of satisfaction when Marvin jerks back as if he’s been slapped.
“You know,” Marvin bites back, “I’m just surprised you can use a word that has more than five letters.”
“Oh, shut the fuck up,” Whizzer rolls his eyes, “You think you’re so much smarter than everyone, don’t you?”
“Maybe not everyone,” Marvin admits tightly, sneering at him, “But I certainly am smarter than some big-haired, smart-mouthed slacker who thinks that he has to act cocky and distant to cover up the fact that he’s just as scared and self-conscious as the rest of us!” He looks at Whizzer like he can see right through him, like he actually knows just what the hell he’s talking about.
“Let’s get something clear.” Whizzer walks toward him slowly, not stopping until he’s back him up against the wall. Marvin tenses immediately as soon as Whizzer looms close to him, his breath hitching and eyes widening. He leans his head back as far away as possible and averts his gaze, as if afraid to even look at Whizzer. And it’s so…pathetic. Disappointment simmers in Whizzer’s stomach at the showcase of such sheer submission, though he doesn’t quite know why he expected anything different.
“You don’t have a fucking clue about who I am, got it?” Whizzer tells him tersely, adding, “You are the type of guy that likes to talk about big things that you know very little about. And I’ll be the first one to tell you, Buddy, that will get your ass kicked.” A muscle in Marvin’s jaw twitches but the man stays silent.
Ignoring the sinking feeling in his gut, Whizzer goes to back away when he feels hands wrap around his shoulders. Marvin reverses their positions, pinning Whizzer against the wall and looming over him. The grip around his shoulders actually kinda hurts, and Whizzer immediately feels heat pool in his lower region. He has to catch himself from smiling in relief.
“Let’s get something clear,” Marvin mimics his earlier tone, staring at him dead in the eyes, “I don’t take criticism and advice from a guy like you.” And Whizzer doesn’t know what he’s referring to—his slacker persona, his pristinely upkept appearance, his particularly overt sexuality—but it lands regardless.
For a stupid, impulsive second, Whizzer almost wants to kiss him—just to see his reaction. Marvin distinctly reminds him of a wind-up toy. It’s so easy to get him going, but Whizzer’s still left waiting with baited breath to find out what exactly he’ll do once he finally lets go of the crank.
Marvin moves away before Whizzer can do anything. He gives him one last look of disgust before collecting his things and walking away. Whizzer watches him leave, making idle note of the length of his squared shoulders, the width of his gait, the slope of his ass. He might be an asshole, but the man sure is pretty to look at.
:: - ::
The next day, he meets Cordelia in a remedial Biology course. Both of them testify that with one shared look of disgust at the bottled pig fetus, it’s bromance at first sight.
“I don’t know how Charlotte could think this is relaxing.” Cordelia says weeks later as they walk out of class together, “I start wanting to throw up the second I enter that lab.”
“That might be the professor’s B.O. rather the dissections.” Whizzer supplies helpfully. Cordelia chuckles but her phone’s text message tone prevents her from responding. She glances at it, her eyebrows raising.
“What, is she still coming for lunch?”
“Even better,” Cordelia replies, bemused, “She’s bringing a friend.”
“Aw,” Whizzer mocks, gesturing to her strange expression, “You jealous?”
“It’s a guy.” Cordelia scoffs, “Hardly.”
He immediately perks up, a salacious grin forming on his face, “A guy, huh?”
She levels him with a look, “Keep it in your pants, Brown.”
:: - ::
“So where is my future husband?” Whizzer asks as he and Cordelia join Charlotte at their usual deli place.
“He went to the bathroom,” Charlotte says, “But this isn’t a set-up, Whizzer. He hasn’t said which way he swings.”
“Swinging, huh? So he’s a baseball player?” Whizzer sighs dreamily, only somewhat teasing now, “Oh please God, let him be a baseball player.”
“He’s in my Economics class,” Charlotte tells him, “I highly doubt he’s a jock.”
Whizzer feigns a pout, “Way to go, Fantasy Killer.”
Behind him, Whizzer hears an incredulous, scornful exclamation, “Whizzer?” And he knows that voice immediately, being forced to hear it every class each time he butts in and talks down to even the professor.
Suppressing an eye roll, Whizzer turns around to glare at him, saying curtly, “Marvin, when we leave Philosophy, you cease to exist in my thoughts. I’d like to keep it that way as much as possible.”
“You two already know each other?” Charlotte asks, causing both men’s hearts to drop.
“He’s the friend?” They say at the exact same time, spinning around to look at Charlotte incredulously.
“Well, this is getting off to a great start.” Cordelia mocks with a shit-eating grin, “I feel like we’re all vibing super hard, you know?”
Suddenly, the casual lunch has developed the heightened tension normally reserved for a battleground.