The last couple days actually went by pretty smoothly. Jack made sure not to try to pick any fights or piss off the faculty (unless they deserved it). Every time he wanted to explode or over react in some way, he just thought about his aunt. It also didn't hurt that he was constantly surrounded by all of these lovable idiots. His classes were going well and he even joined a club, if you can believe it. The guys had basically pressured him into joining, but in all honesty he was thrilled. It was a video game club that consisted mostly of his friend group anyway so he was up for it.
He hadn't known what to expect, but when he entered the computer lab Wednesday afternoon he was greeted warmly. All of his friends- yes, he called them his friends now- were lounging around, playing games, watching videos, and chatting.
"Jack!" a bunch of them cheered when they saw him walk in. He gave a little wave as Mark gestured for him to sit down. As soon as he took his seat, Mark put an arm around him, making him blush.
"Okay, introductions are in order." He stood up, hand still on his back. "Now, most of you already know our fine feathered Irish friend, here." Some of them cheered and clapped. Felix shouted, "My man!" Jack blushed a little at all the attention. He thought he'd be used to it by now. Oh well.
Mark continued. "But there are some amongst us that don't know of his awesomeness." Felix yelled, "Boo!" Mark just rolled his eyes. Gesturing to three boys sitting by the wall, he said, "These are the fresh meat of our little group. This is Gerald, but don't call him that, lest you want to face his wrath. Call him G." He laughed and waved.
"And this is Brian, who is anime as fuck with his blond-striped hair."
"And last but most certainly not least, this lovable blueberry is Ethan." Jack pointed to the blue-haired boy.
Ethan laughed and nodded. "Nice hair," he echoed.
Mark smiled. "Okay, everyone can get back to work now." And he sat back down. Jack looked a little confused.
"So… What do we do here?" Mark chuckled.
"We play video games, duh."
"No no, I just thought there was a little more to it, is all." Mark smiled again.
"Good, cuz I was fucking with you. This is all more than just playing games. We research new games in the works and test them out. Some of us right blogs about it and others, like myself, have started to make videos and post them on YouTube. We take the art of video gaming very seriously." Jack's eyes lit up.
"Really? That's awesome! Normally people just don't get it. So much time and effort and dedication get put into video games. And the graphics of some of them are phenomenal! Not to mention the music and voice acting." Mark looked at him fondly.
"Yeah, you're gonna fit in here nicely."
That was on Wednesday. And now it happened to be Friday and Jack was a nervous wreck and he didn't know why. This was Mark, the goofy, nerdy, funny...handsome, charming, perfect guy that he's come to admire.
He shook his head to rid the thought. No, it's gonna be fine. They would probably just chill and talk about school or something. Right as he had calmed his breathing and opened his locker, a hand touched his shoulder. Jack jumped a foot in the air and whirled around.
"Oh jeez, sorry man, didn't mean to scare you." Ken stood there, hands raised in defense. Jack took a couple deep breaths.
"S'okay. I'm fine. What's up?"
"Nothing much. Just wanted to check up on you. We haven't really had a chance to talk. And you seem like the kinda guy that doesn't like a bunch of interaction at once so I didn't wanna bombard you right away. So how has our lovely school welcomed you?" He pulled a cheesy grin that made Jack smirk.
"First impression was shit. Second impression was a little less than shit. And that's how it's been going for the week. At this rate, hopefully I won't wanna jump out a second story window by graduation." Ken chuckled.
"Yeah, it can feel that way sometimes, I don't fault you there. But has it really been that horrible? The guys just adore you. Felix has all but written poems about his 'little criminal.' At first it might have seemed like everyone was just fascinated by the new student who also happens to be foreign. And that may have been the case for a little while, but we've all grown to really like you." Jack considered this for a moment.
"Thanks, man. It's kinda weird; I've had these little heart-to-hearts with just about everyone in the group by now. It's nice to see that you're not all just a bunch of spastic video game nerds."
"Oh, we're definitely first and foremost spastic video game nerds. But we also have big hearts and if we all put our heads together we just about make up one fully functioning brain." They both laughed. Then Ken paused, looking like he wanted to say something but at the same time not push boundaries.
"You said you've had these heart-to-hearts, right? I've seen you around Mark a lot. You have your heart-to-heart with him yet?" Jack furrowed his brow.
"What do you mean?"
"I don't mean anything by it. It's just that, for as fun and kind and loving as Mark usually is, he's been that tenfold this week. And all he talks about is you. It's cute and borderline annoying, haha. But I know that he's a little hesitant with people he...likes these days. I don't wanna get into the details of a story that's not mine to tell, but he's been really hurt by past relationships. But with you he's been diving head first into it all. I don't know if it's because he thinks you're different or if he doesn't realize what he's doing and at some point will retreat in on himself later on.
"And I know you can get overwhelmed when it comes to personal info and emotions and all that jazz. I just don't want this, what could be a great thing, to turn into one big crapshow cuz things got to be too much too soon. I don't know if I'm trying to protect you or if this is one of those cliche, 'Hurt my friend and I'll hurt you' rants. I just see two super awesome, good-natured people and I don't want them to get hurt. And I know at some point Mark's gonna just spill his heart out cuz that's the kind of guy he is and I want you to have a heads up. I don't want you to be shocked by it all or feel the need to tell him your backstory as well. Just be upfront with him and he'll be the same with you." Jack was taken back a bit.
"Well, thanks...again. You're a good friend. But I seriously don't think he sees me as anything more than just that: a friend. And that's totally fine!" he rushed out. "I'm not disappointed by that or anything. I don't see him that way either." Ken gave him a knowing look.
"I'm sure you don't. But just in case, be careful."
"Don't worry, man. I'm not one to just spill my entire backstory at the drop of a hat. And I'll do everything in my power to make sure Mark doesn't get hurt. He's in good hands." His eyes widened a little. "Figuratively." Ken burst out laughing. Out of the corner of his eye he saw Mark walking down the hall.
"Oh shoot! I've got to get going. Take care."
"Y'know, for being the big, burly, tattooed jock of our group, you sure do swear the least!" Ken smiled and headed in the other direction. Jack closed his locker, revealing Mark by his side. Jack jumped again.
"Christ on a bike! Everyone is sneaking up on me today!" Mark stifled a laugh.
"A bit on edge, there, Jackaboy?"
"Not at all. Everyone else is just creepy."
"Fair enough. So! You ready to go?" Jack looked at him skeptically.
"Wouldn't you like to know?" He linked their arms and walked toward the exit. "You're gonna love it.