This story will have both Dylan/Marco and Jimmy/Marco themes. Don't like it? Don't read it.
This story takes place a little after "Pride"; meaning, "It's Raining Men" has not happened.
Marco jumped backwards in alarm, his thoughts scattering as he was suddenly pulled back into the present by the loud shouting of his name in his ear. He turned his head quickly in the direction of the voice, only to find himself looking into the concerned face of his best friend, Ellie Nash.
"I've only been talking to you for the past ten minutes, Marco, and you haven't listened to a single word I've said," Ellie stated, more concerned than angry at his lack of attention. "And I asked if I could borrow your notes from yesterday."
"Oh, yeah, sure, El. They're in my locker," Marco responded, offering Ellie an apologetic smile. "I really am interested in what you were saying, it's just..."
"..that you've got a lot of stuff on your mind, I know, Marco. I just wish you'd talk to me about it."
It was a Monday morning, the air crisp and fresh as the pair made their way to Degrassi Community School. The past two weeks had been especially trying ones on Marco, from the blatant yet unspoken announcement of his sexuality on the school's bathroom wall, to the loss of one of his closest friends, and the unforgettable night when he was physically reminded of the hatred people harbored towards those different from themselves.
Because of all this, Ellie knew better than to push him to talk to her; but she couldn't help but feel as though he needed to express his feelings to somebody, preferably her.
"It's just difficult, Ellie. But I'm fine, really. And I know that I can talk to you if I need to. I'm just not ready yet, okay?"
"Okay, Marco, but I think --"
Ellie was cut off by Marco's hand covering her mouth, his fist grabbing her shirt and pulling her backwards behind a bush. She screamed into his hand, and when he didn't remove it, she bit down on the flesh of his palm. Hard.
"Aah!" he cried, as he quickly removed his hand from Ellie, and instead pressed a finger against his mouth, in the universal symbol for 'SHUT UP!' He received a glare from Ellie, but she obliged, looking at him questioningly for a moment.
Marco looked down at his hand and grimaced at the sight of Ellie's teeth marks. He shook out his hand, to rid himself of the fleeting pain, before he slowly peeked his head around the bush.
Ellie, curiously, followed Marco's actions, and peered around to see just what they had apparently hid from. And through the small groups of kids, the guys who were skateboarding, and the two teens making out on the steps, she saw a familiar head of blonde curls stepping inside the school doors.
Marco let out a sigh of relief as the blonde boy moved completely out of view.
"You're going to have to talk to him sometime. You can't hide from him forever," Ellie said, brushing off her clothes.
"Maybe not, but I can try," Marco responded, as the pair left the bushes and headed towards the building.
While they walked through the halls, Ellie began re-describing the events of her weekend, and this time, Marco not only listened, but was also very responsive.
"...it was very unexpected, he just called right out of the blue..." Ellie's voice drifted off as they turned the corner towards the lockers. At the other end of the hall, suspiciously close to Marco's locker, a growing crowd had assembled. Dread set into both Ellie and Marco's stomachs as they approached, neither knowing just what to expect, although they were both almost certain it had to do with Marco.
As they approached, the crowd seemed to grow quiet, all eyes focused on the boy and his friend. Ellie easily pushed her way through the crowd, forming an easy path for Marco to follow behind her.
Despite Ellie's attempt to mentally prepare herself for whatever she would find, she couldn't help but gasp as she read the grafitied words that covered Marco's locker. Tears immediately sprung to her eyes, but she bit her lip, fighting to keep the tears at bay behind her lids. Tentatively, she shifted her gaze towards Marco, to gage his reaction.
Marco, unlike Ellie, was losing the battle against his emotions, tears already pooling in the corners of his eyes. His stomach lurched and twisted, as the painted words filled him with nausea. He could feel Ellie's eyes upon him, but he couldn't bring himself to return the look; instead, he did the only thing he could do. He ran.
He heard Ellie yell for him, but he couldn't stop, couldn't face her. He had to get out of there, had to get away from the eyes, everyone's eyes, all on him. Tears streaked down his face as he ran, causing his vision to blur. He only registered that there was a body blocking his path after he collided with it; and he only paused long enough to murmur an apology before he was off again, shoving through the doors to the outside.
He had barely made it outside when his stomach began to convulse again, this time with greater intensity than before. He had only just reached the grass when he lost complete control, leaning forward as he heaved the contents of his stomach all over the lawn.
Out of nowhere, gentle hands touched his back, moving in slow circular patterns over the fabric of his shirt in a calming manner.
Surprised at the soothing presence of another, Marco tried to look back to see to whom the hands belonged to, since they were obviously far too large to belong to Ellie. However, when he tried to look, another round of retching began, and all of his attention turned back to the ground. He continued vomiting in the grass until there was nothing left in his system, leaving him to dry-heave for several moments until the soothing hands on his back had managed to calm him down enough to be able to inhale without gagging.
"Shhh, it's okay... Breathe, Marco, breathe.."
At the comforting words and familiar voice, Marco shakily straightened himself upwards, his breathing shallow as fresh tears had already begun to well. He wiped at his mouth with the back of his hand, silently chastising himself for being such a baby. As the soothing hands were removed from his back, Marco turned around, to face his companion.
"Yeah, man, I'm here," he murmured, as Marco immediately collapsed into his arms, sobbing quietly against his chest. Jimmy wrapped his arms around the upset boy, one hand cradling the back of his neck while the other returned to rubbing his back. He couldn't help but remember that just last week they were in similar positions. Just the memory of that night made Jimmy flinch, and he wrapped his arms tighter around the crying boy, determined to protect him from whatever had caused his distress.
Suddenly he heard Marco's muffled voice against his chest, the words indistinguishable through the fabric.
"Marco?" he questioned, using his hand to gently lift the boy's chin, so that their eyes met. The pain he saw in the other's eyes was so evident that he almost had the urge to cry himself.
"AIDS is the cure for gays," Marco mumbled, fighting back another round of tears. "Th-they wrote it on m-my locker."
"Jesus Christ," Jimmy said, unable to believe his ears. How could anyone be so cruel? Especially to someone as sweet and vulnerable as Marco. There wasn't a single mean bone in the boy's body; he was all love and compassion. Anger welled in Jimmy's chest, a deep sense of protectiveness for the shorter boy surfacing. He pulled the Italian back into another tight embrace, not wanting to upset Marco any more.
"If Spinner did this, I'll kill him," Jimmy said, as Marco pulled away.
"I-I don't know who did it. I don't... I don't know," he mumbled, shaking his head.
Suddenly, the bell rang, signifying that they were late.
"You should... You should get to class," Marco said, wiping away the remaining tears from his face.
"You're not coming? I could keep you company," Jimmy offered, not really wanting Marco to be alone right now.
"No, I'll be okay... I think I'm just going to go home," he replied, forcing a tiny smile. "But thanks. For... everything. It really means a lot to me."
"No problem, buddy. I'll always be here for you."
Marco smiled softly at his friend, genuinely happy to hear those words from someone he cared a great deal about. He gave a slight wave with his hand, before he turned away, making his way back towards his house.
Jimmy watched the retreating form of his friend until he was completely out of sight. He couldn't get rid of the feeling that he would do anything just to keep a permanent smile on Marco's face.
He glanced at his watch; he had to get to class. He had a math test in... well, five minutes ago. He grabbed his books off the ground, and headed inside, his thoughts still lingering on Marco's smile.