Marco was never supposed to be anything more than an irritating introverted kid I got stuck with in Classic French Literature. I kept thinking college was going to suck; the homework, the people, the teachers. Damn, was I wrong. I didn't realize just how big of a change I was in for, how big of an impact Marco would have on my life. He sparked something within me, something that only grew hotter and brighter with every day that passed with him. This is the story of how Marco Bodt made my whole world go up in flames.
"Bonjour étudiants, cela est la littérature française classique." The professor's voice rang out through the classroom. I sank a little lower in my seat. Of all the classes my parents could have stuck me in... Classic French Literature; the class where all you want to do is sleep. Poetry is hella dull and I can hardly keep my eyes open during any poetry I've ever listened to or read, French or not.
"Let's start off in English. My name is Professor Pixis. Get it? Got it? Good. I feel that most of you probably took French in high school but never took the time to fully appreciate it. Now while in my class..." The professor's voice droned on but honestly I'm just here to pass the class, get the credit and be on my merry way. I'm already perfectly fluent in French, it's quicker to pass through my lips than English; as a matter of fact, if you piss me off enough I can sound exactly like a French sailor, all dignity intact of course. I was raised speaking nothing but French for the first five years of my life, that is, before my mother enrolled me in the hell that is known as school.
My internal brooding session is brought to a grinding halt when the boy and girl next to me erupt into giggles.
"Connie! What the hell is that?" A petite girl with dark hair pulled back in a ponytail giggled into her hand. "Is that supposed to be moi?" Pony girl snatched a paper from the boy sitting next to her. He wasn't bald but his head was shaved close enough to call him baldy. His green eyes lit up with amusement as he looked at the paper pony girl had in her hands. Baldy chuckled, "Of course it is! Just look at the resemblance."
"Nuh uh! I do not have stick hands, I have dragon talons! Raaawr!" Pony girl growled and raised her hands in a mock dragon pose. Baldy bent over the front of the desk laughing.
"Excuse me you three, is there something you would like to share with the class?" Mr. Pixis's voice boomed through the room as everyone else in the class went silent. He walked down the aisle, stopping at my, Baldy, and Pony Girl's desks. Pony girl flushed pink and Baldy's smile slipped off his face.
"Uh, um, heh, well you see... I-I-We..." Baldy trailed off under Mr. Pixis's expectant stare.
"They were just saying how excited we are to be in this class Mr. Pixis." I drawl out. Shit... I really need this credit and all chances of passing just went out the window... Oh well, even if I'm not technically involved with them I'm already gonna hate the class, why not make the teacher hate me too?
Mr. Pixis stood there for a moment, obviously deciding whether I was worth the lecture he wanted to dish out. "Okay then, you won't mind coming up in front of the class then would you?" He grinned - sadistically, if you ask me - and stalked back up the aisle.
I sigh and roll my eyes. Pushing my chair out, I stand and follow Mr. Pixis. "Good luck dude." Baldy whispers from behind me. Turning around I shoot him my classic fuck you, your mother, and your existence look. Pony girl's face contorts in amusement. "Hey, if looks could kill you'd combust Connie." "Shut up Sasha!" Connie whisper-yelled.
"Are you coming... I didn't catch your name?" Mr. Pixis stood up next to the board. Reaching him, I turn around, facing all 82 other people in the room. "My name is Jean Kirschtein," I grind out between clenched teeth. My stomach was already queasy, now it felt like my innards are trying to claw their way out of my abdomen.
"Okay, John," I clench my jaw at him purposely adding the hard J. "I want you to read this to the class." He grabbed a book off his desk and flipped it open to a page near the middle.
I know my face is visibly getting redder and redder. I must look like a tomato by now.
I have a major phobia of public speaking. Ever since I was a junior in high school and had to do a speech in front of everyone in the auditorium; which was the whole. damn. school. That had NOT been a fun experience. I had started off hella awesome; dressed in a button up and my only tie, I had made sure my attire was fit for red carpet wear. My speech had been about addressing the bullying policy at Trost High. If there was one thing I hated more than liars it was people who put others down just to feel good. I had got about halfway through when I looked up and Eren fucking Jaeger and his cronies were laughing and pointing at me. At first I had just shrugged it off, the suicidal asshole had had it out for me ever since I'd asked Mikasa out in 6th grade. But I just happened to glance up and there, just above me, were three buckets suspended in air by thin wires and concealed by the stage curtain. My head had whipped around to look at Eren just as the buckets tipped and thirty gallons of old cafeteria food coated my body. Curdled milk, spaghetti, pizza, lettuce, condiments, juice, and more stuff I didn't even want to consider had soaked through my clothes and seeped into my shoes.
I remember every excruciating detail, down to the way my legs began to tremble as the whole auditorium erupted into laughter. Tears had filled my eyes and I flew off the stage. It took 2 hours for Armin and Reiner to get me to stop crying and another 3 to get me off of the locker room shower floor. Ever since then I avoided large crowds and well, pretty much any social interaction at all.
“John, if you could read sometime before class ends that would be superb." Mr. Pixis's sarcastic comment jolts me back into reality and out of my memory. I'm standing in front my 82 peers with a book in my hands, mouth hanging slightly open, and my face so red they must think I'm about to have a coronary. When the hell did I get a book?
"Uhuhem..." I clear my throat and look down at the page. "Uhem..." I clear my throat again for good measure. Reading through the first few lines, I try to put on my best poker face.
However, when I glance back up I see him. Sitting one row ahead of my seat - which I'd purposely picked because it was in the back. I don't know what it was that really caught my attention. Maybe I'm just a freak, but there he was. His brown hair parted carelessly down the middle, as if by habit rather than styling; he sat forward on the desk, cradling his head in his left hand. His dark eyes meet mine and for a moment I think I see his face go a little red. He drops his gaze to quickly to look at the desk. His neatly trimmed bangs falling to cover his eyes.
Feeling all too smug from my sudden boost of confidence, I roll my shoulders, stand up straight, and hold the book up. Taking a deep breath, I begin.
"L'amour est l'emblème de l'éternité;" The first few words roll off my tongue with ease, "il confond toute la notion de temps, efface toute la mémoire d'un commencement, toute la crainte d'une extrémité." As I reach the end of the script, I find my eyes once again trained on the mysterious boy I'd found earlier.
He was staring at me with a mix of amusement and awe. I drop my own stare back to the book, feeling the tips of my ears turn red from embarrassment. Who the hell did this guy think he was? Looking at me like that... Damn. "Good job, John! Wonderful enunciation and pronunciation." Pixis boomed in my ear. His large hand clapped my shoulder and I had to grit my teeth to stop myself from snapping at him. "Now, if you could, would you mind translating that to English for us?" His hand fell from my shoulder and he looked down at me expectantly. I had to fight the sudden urge to literally growl at that old fuck.
"Love is the emblem of eternity; it confounds all notion of time, effaces all memory of a beginning, all fear of an end." I have to force my eyes not to wander to mystery boy's face. Instead I choose to glare a hole through Baldy's head. He sinks down into his seat more as I don't look away.
"Wonderful job, John. Take your seat and then I will explain the rest of the project."
I shift on my feet awkwardly for a moment before moving to take my seat. The back of mystery boy's head somehow captures my attention again and I tune out everything Pixis is saying. Mysterious hunk has a bunch of freckles on the back on his neck... I wonder if he has more on him. While I'm totally not drooling over what might be thoughts of broad shoulders Pixis's nasally-ass voice buzzes through my daydream in the back of my mind. What the hell is up with me? I haven't been this worked up over someone since high school. Thanking whatever god of awkward halfies in class that i wore a sweatshirt and my letterman jacket that day; i tug the sweatshirt down a little and sit up. Buttoning the bottom two buttons of the jacket to at least add a small block to direct view and allow a slight feeling of discreteness - even though deep down I know it's not really helping. "Sasha Blouse and Connie Springer." I flinch as Baldy and Pony Girl high-five and snort obnoxiously. "Hannah Diamant and Fritz Kefka." Oh fuck, he's naming off partners. This means team project. What the hell is up with my luck lately?! I don't work well with others. "John Kirsten and... Marco Bodt." I'm about to deck that old asshole right now. "M’kay, you have your instruction on what to do. I want it in 3 weeks, on that Wednesday class. You are dismissed." Everyone stands around me as I sit dazed in my seat. The mystery guy from earlier turns around in his seat and looks directly at me. He opens his mouth as if to say something but I stand, cutting him off and turning too quickly for him to get a word in. I hurry up the aisle and to the right towards the door, not looking back. I make it halfway down the hall and into the torrent off college kids before I hear angry cries of people as he pushes his way through the crowd, "Hey, wait!" He calls. Psh, whatever. There's a reason why I live like 5 minutes away from this class. Pushing open the door I step out onto the sidewalk leading to The Square.
I share a living space with Reiner Braun and Bertholdt Hoover in a main suite above the regular dorm rooms. There are three good sized bedrooms, a decently big living room and a workable kitchen with a stove, a small fridge, and 3 cupboards next to a sink. The sparsely decorated living room held a leather couch with one blanket that usually smelled a little funny. Next to it sat a love seat covered in blankets. At least ten different sized blankets made up the outline of what used to be the comfy couch. We have a 62 inch flat screen that I brought with me along with my Playstation, 4 boxes of different games and CDs, and another 2 full of movies. I don't have much in life but I treasure my movies and gaming system.
I turn towards my dorm building and half sprint up through the doors and into the lounge. Petra greets me with a cheerful smile but I just shove past her desk and head towards the elevator.
Pushing the up button once then twice for good measure I tap my foot impatiently. The elevator finally arrives and it dings as the doors slide open, I step inside and hit the 3rd floor button as the doors slide smoothly closed behind me. I wonder absent-mindedly if Reiner and Bertholdt are even home. They're probably getting ready for theater rehearsal. They have props and costume building from 3 to 8 every other Thursday and Wednesday.
The elevator doors open once again and I step out into the hallway leading past Annie Leonhardt's 2 bedroom suite and Ymir Meade and Christa Lenz's 1 bed flat. When I reach the last door I have my key to unlock it but as I twist the knob I find the door's already unlocked.
"We're home Jean!" I hear Bertholdt yell from behind the door. "Yeah, come on in Pony-Boy." Reiner chimes in when I open the door and slip my shoes off next to the door. Reiner comes from behind me and cuffs me on the shoulder, my torso shifting as his massive palm hits it. "We have some bad news for you. So prep your bitch face." Reiner's face tries to take the "Father Figure" look but he completely messes it up when his face cracks into a huge grin. He opens his mouth to tell me what's going on but Bert interrupts him. "What Reiner means to say is he talked to Annie and we're moving into the apartment next to us. She wants to spend more time with us and it's a mutual feeling." I can feel the disbelief and almost anger at the sinking feeling of my stomach showing on my face. This means there's going to be two empty rooms in our apartment... That I can't afford to pay for. Which means new tenants. New people. Fuck.
Bertholdt can only smile sadly; albeit a little sheepishly actually, at my expression as he waits for me to gather my thoughts to speaking ability. "I'm sorry Jean, but this deal is too good to pass up. You’re getting new roommates, but don't worry too much. One of them is a close friend of mine and Reiner's. His name is Marco and he's a good kid so be nice to him." Bertholdt gives me what could only be described as 'the mom' look. "Hey! Just because I'm a little snappy in the morning doesn't mean I'm gonna abuse this guy. You act like I kick puppies." Reiner laughs and claps me on my shoulder again. I stifle the manly and rugged squeal that threatens to escape. Man that guy really doesn't comprehend his strength. I think my shoulder might be dislocated. "And the other guy is Connie Springer. Annoying as hell but loyal to a T. Bald and yea tall." Reiner holds his hand to his shoulder, so about 5'9. "Feel free to bully him but no major roughhousing. He's from a line of high-end military folk. So Jeann-y boy, he will kick. your. ass." He emphasizes his last three words with a not quite sucker punch to my left arm. Definite chance of bruising. "I know Connie, he's in my Lit class I just came from. I just met him today and I can already tell he's a little fuck boy. I don't like this guys. I hope you know this." I give Bertholt my malnourished puppy look and he looks sad but firm.
"I am not a fuck boy, and Reiner's not wrong. I will kick your ass, bro." I hear a familiar voice come from behind me. Turning, I see none other than the little shit from earlier. "I'm sorry we got off on the wrong foot. It sucked that Pixis did that to you, but thanks for saving my ass. Can we start over?" He holds out his hand for me to shake. I contemplate showing the true extent of my foot-in-mouth abilities and just blowing off the handshake, however something in me makes me want to try to be nice to the guy. So I reach out and shake his hand firmly. "Yeah man, we're cool. Just know where we stand, the Playstation and tv are mine. You're welcome to both and Netflix, but respect all my discs. Put them back in the cases please." I grin at him and he nods in return. "I'm taking the room closest to the front door. So that leaves Marco the middle room." Connie says as he shifts the duffel bag off his shoulder and into his hand. "Marco... Marco, why does it feel like I've heard that name a lot lately? Like, everywhere guys." I say, feeling like there was something blatantly obvious about the name nagging at the back of my mind. I swear that I had met or at least talked to a guy named Marco at some point. "Well, you can find out if you know him in about three minutes. He's coming over to check out the apartment right now." Reiner says as he clicks his shitty iPhone screen to blank.
"Wait, another person? Are you and Bertholdt staying here to introduce me to said new person?" I ask Reiner, raising my brow as what feels like slight panic rising in my chest. Bertholdt only sighs softly and goes to pick up the lone tote next to the door. "No, Reiner and I are dropping this off at Annie's and then going to theater practice. We still have three-quarters of a set to build-" "And less than 3 months till production night." Reiner finishes his taller boyfriend’s words as they head for the door. "Remember, play nice and discuss room payment and boundaries. Marco's a cool kid so have fun, use protection and lots and lots o’ lube!" And then they're gone, leaving me with Connie and his duffel bag, along with my steadily rising blood pressure. "Yeah, I have to head out too. I have my job at The Grind. My friend Sasha will be waiting to run up my tab at work." Connie reached the door just as there's a soft knock. Connie turns around and shrugs at me, giving me the raised eyebrows of 'I kind of know new guy so be nice' look.
"Why does everyone assume I'm going to eat this dude?" I mutter as I shuffle my feet walking over to the door of my room. "It's like they expect me to be a douche." I feel like I should be almost personally offended but instead I'm more towards slightly amused. Maybe I'll give this dude a shot just for the hell of it.
I lean against my doorframe and turn my gaze back to the door just as Connie opens it. My heart flutters in my chest; stomach dropping to the floor as I take in who's standing in my doorway.