It’s two minutes before class is starting. I’m tired as fuck, not because I couldn’t care less about school and make no real effort to pay attention in class, but also because I was awake nearly the whole night. At first, I couldn’t fall asleep since a thousands of thoughts were occupying my mind, and on top of that I had a shitty nightmare not an hour after my brain finally decided to shut up. Of course my body hated me even more than my mind and approved the idea of not letting me sleep. Which is why I might look like a zombie like now, with bags under my eyes and a really shitty mood.
Everyone stops talking and looks to the teacher’s desk. Not a second later, the bell is ringing and my classmates hurry to their seats, even Hange who’s reluctant of leaving my side, although it’s just for class and they doesn’t sit further away than three foot.
Mr. Smith hovers over an unfamiliar, tall boy with messy brown hair who seems completely content with the situation if the lopsided smirk is anything to go by. While Mr. Smith talks, the boy’s gaze wanders over the class. “This is Eren Jäger, the exchange student from Germany we talked about last lesson. He’ll be in your class for the whole year. Be sure to take care of him and include him in your group.”
As a few calls of “Yes, Sir!” echo through the room, the brunet locks eyes with me. My heart stops for a second, not because of some gay shit like someone (coughHangecough) might think but because of his eyes.
His mismatched eyes which are so alike mine, with the only difference of the color and the fact that I hide mine behind colored contact lenses.
“What the fuck you think you’re doing, suicidal bastard…” I mutter under my breath. Of course he can’t hear it since I’m sitting in the back, but he sure as hell can see my lips moving while we stare at each other. He raises an eyebrow at me and his grin widens as I roll my eyes.
“Eren, please talk about yourself so the class gets to know you”, Mr. Smith suggests, although he lets it sound more like a command.
Eren nods, his good mood irrepressible. “Like Mr. Smith already mentioned, I’m Eren Jäger”, he starts and turns around to the blackboard to write his name down. His handwriting is sloppy and curvy albeit it’s not like you aren’t able to identify his letters, unlike my own tiny, angular writing. I lean back in my seat with my arms crossed and eyes narrowed.
“I’m seventeen years old and have an adopted sister from Japan. As hobbies I write stories and draw. It’s a pleasure to meet y’all!”, he exclaims with a cheeky grin and another glance to me. What the fuck is wrong with this kid?
Mr. Smith thanks him politely and asks him to sit down at any empty seat. Of course the fucker just happens to choose the one in front of me. I hope the others won’t associate me with him, I had enough stress in middle school because of this shit.
After class, I made my way over to Hange without a glance at the new guy.
They’re surprised to say at the least that I approached them first. “Levi, have you seen his eyes?!”, they exclaim before I can say anything.
“Yeah”, I mutter, feeling my heart sinking. Oh please, not them too.
“They’re so interesting!”
Interesting because nobody has eyes like this. Nobody I know beside myself and him. Interesting because it makes you an easy target. Interesting because every single fucker hates you for them. Interesting because you’re extraordinary, and being extraordinary means being odd, equivalent to “stay away from that strange fucker or you catch the ‘arrogance’-disease!”
Nothing that hasn’t been aimed at me.
I turn around again. Suddenly, all air leaves my lungs in a rush and I have to blink at least twice to be sure my contact lenses are not playing a stupid trick on me. Almost the whole class surrounds Eren, asking him questions and laugh with him, while he’s bathing in the attention like it’s water. He seems confident, even happier than at the beginning of the day, and looks like doesn’t mind at all.
Hange’s babbling next to me, something about wanting to talk to him, but I don’t really hear them. It’s like everything happens in slow motion and or doesn’t move at all, but my thoughts are whirling. Why does everyone like him although he has those eyes? Why did everybody hate me because I have those eyes? How can we be so similar but different at the same time?
But it’s not the thought that makes my heart wrench.
Could I have had this all along?
The longer I think about, the more I can feel my eyes getting wet. Fuck, I’m not crying in here. I’m the unapproachable asshole, the one nobody wants to get to know besides that crazy fucker called Hange. My situation will worsen if I’d start to cry in here. I’d rather be the class-skipping bad guy than the wimp I was in middle school.
I exit the room and ignore Hange’s confused question.
Ten minutes later in the janitor’s room, I’ve calmed down a bit but I’m as confused as before. I manage not to cry, but I’m certain the skin around my eyes is reddened and irritated because I constantly wipe off the tears threatening to roll down my cheeks.
The bell rings once again, announcing the start of the second lesson. I wait a minute before climbing out of the room and walking to the boy’s restroom. I thought the day couldn’t get worse, but a look into one of the square mirrors on the hideous wall is enough to convince me otherwise.
One of my blue contact lenses is missing, showing my gray eye. Shit.
My throat becomes constricted once again and I try to swallow the lump in it. With shaky fingers, I reach up and carefully take the remaining lens out of my eye before rinsing it and putting it in my gray one. Although I already know the result, I still hope the blue of my left eye and the lens is the same and won’t stand out. Needless to say, it does. With a cuss falling from my lips, I take it out again and flush it down one of the toilets. One lens is as useful as none.
Now the tears are flowing for real, and I’m unable to stop them. Without thinking about it, I lock myself in one of the stalls and press the balls of my hands against my eyelids, trying to stop crying and sobbing even harder in the process.
Suddenly, footsteps. First in the hallway. I bite my lip and take a shaky breath so I’m not as loud. Then in the restroom. Of fucking course, because the universe obviously hates me.
After a minute of silence, a new but already familiar, warm voice speaks up. “Everyone’s searching for you. And your friend – Hange was it, right? - couldn’t find you. She looked really worried.”
“They”, I correct him without missing a beat, mentally cursing because he gets to hear my fucked up, husky voice.
I sigh. He can probably tell I’ve cried, so it’s no use to hide inside a stall anymore. At least he’s not going to give me shit about my eyes since that would only backfire. “They’re non-binary, not female. Use they/them as pronouns.” I say before opening the door and glancing at him.
Eren leans against a sink and stares at the dirty tiles of the bathroom. His cheeks become pink-tinted - in embarrassment, most likely. “Oh, sorry. Anyways, they went crazy when you just disappeared like that.”
“They were already crazy before”, I mutter, making Eren laugh quietly. Granted, he really has a nice laugh. I wish I could hear it more often.
He finally turns to me, surprise clear in his expression as he stares at the colors of my eyes. Steel-gray and ice-blue meets honey and emerald as I finally gather the courage to hold his gaze.
“You’ve Heterochromia Iridum, too.”
“Your eyes, they’re not the same color-“
“No shit, Sherlock”, I interrupt him, but he doesn’t mind.
“-It’s called Heterochromia Iridum. Why did you hide them? They’re beautiful!”
I snort and give him a dirty look, sarcasm clear in my voice as I speak. “Yeah, right.”
“No, seriously! I really don’t understand why you’d feel the need to hide these beauties… Every girl and boy in school would swoon over you if they’d see them!”
Every single word of his cuts deeper and adds more fuel to the fire, making me even fucking madder than I was before. I clench my hands at my side so I won’t hit the wall or even worse; him.
“The teacher wasn’t there yet, so we can go back without they make a fuss. There’s really no proble-“
“Of course is there a fucking problem!”, I snap, glaring daggers at him who flinched at my sudden outburst. “To be honest, there are too many fucking problems! Everyone hated me because of these fucking eyes on top of being gay, bullied me until I broke down as soon as I set a foot in this shitty thing called middle school! I had to hide my god damn eyes so I’m able to fucking graduate! And here you come, having those same eyes as me and you’re liked regardless! No, you’re even liked because of it! Don’t you understand how much it fucking hurt as I saw you and the others like this?! How much … pain I could have spared myself?!” I didn’t even notice I’ve started crying again, hell, I didn’t even notice Eren got up and walked towards me, not until I’m suddenly embraced in a tight hug. I break off abruptly and let out a sob that could be interpreted as a whimper, but he just holds me closer. I’m painfully aware of my arms hanging loosely by my side and clench my hands into fists once again.
Eren says nothing, he just holds me until my loud sobs become quiet sniffles. Somewhere in between I’ve given up my façade and grabbed his sweater at the back like my life depended on it, burying my face in the crook of his neck. We stay like that for a while and it feels like everything has fallen into place.
“It’ll definitely sound weird when I’ll say this right now”, he starts, his voice low and warm near my ear, “but I’m not straight either. Back in Germany, everyone joked about me being pan for who knows how long and I felt like shit, too. But then I seriously talked and, ehm, fought with one of the fuckers – his name’s Jean – and I began to understand that they didn’t meant it like I perceived it. The horseface was my best friend since that moment.” Eren chuckles deep in his throat; and I really hope he doesn’t feel the warmth of my face against his skin.
“Seems too good to be true”, I mumble, still sniffling. A certain thought pops up in my mind, that this is such a wonderful second first impression, but I discard it not a second later. If he were this shallow, he wouldn’t comfort me like this.
He hums and slowly lets go of me, taking my hand in his bigger one instead while locking his mismatched eyes with mine. “I can show you it’s true if you let me.”
“Alright.” A small smile tugs on my lips, the first time in weeks or months even. And he smiles right back at me.